Category Archives: Education

Two UCLA rallies against the War in Vietnam


Both star-studded, as only Los Angeles rallies can be.

Both are represented in remarkable audio recordings from the 1960s and early 1970s in the wonderful online archives of the University of California, Los Angeles, Department of Communications Studies [and do browse, there's everything from Bucky Fuller and Timothy Leary to Robert Oppenheimer and Richard Harris].

The first recording is from the 15 October 1969 Vietnam Moratorium Day rally, one of scores held on campuses and in cities throughout the country.

Among the speakers are Los Angeles Urban coalition chair Martin Stone, actors Burt Lancaster and Candice Bergin, several students [including the daughter of a South Vietnamese politician jailed for advocating peace], U.S. Rep. George Brown Jr. [D-CA], Harry Bellafonte, and comedian Stanley Myron Handelman, plus some brilliant performances by esnl’s favorite radical folkie Phil Ochs [previously].

From UCLA’s Department of Communications Studies:

Moratorium Day Rally at UCLA 10/15/1969

The second event is the Vietnam Day rally of 15 May 1972, and features an impassioned speech by Jane Fonda, the actress who became a lightning rod of the American right and was used to discredit John Kerry during his presidential run, a story we covered at the time for the Berkeley Daily Planet.

Fonda’s remarks are prefaced by those of Dong Hong Cai [phonetic], a Vietnamese native awarded a Harvard scholarship, followed by an architectural scholarship to MIT, who delivers an impassioned plea on behalf of his country, and an illuminating perspective on American ignorance of the culture they professed to protect.

His is a remarkable speech, and we still haven’t learned as a nation the lessons he imparted so eloquently.

On with the event:

Jane Fonda speaking at a rally against the war in Vietnam 5/15/1972

EbolaWatch: Fears in Texas, latest from Africa


For Americans, the major Ebola news — and hopefully a story that will kindle their compassion for the plight of West Africa — is the arrival of the disease in the form of a walk-pin patient from Liberia and turned away from a Dallas hospital.

But before we get to the story of the day, two other headlines, first from RT:

Ebola worse than HIV, SARS – UN official

The man leading the UN response to the Ebola epidemic, Dr. David Nabaro, says Ebola poses a worse threat to humanity than HIV or SARS and the global effort to combat it is woefully inefficient and that he needs $30 million now.

Nabaro was speaking after various presentations on how to combat the disease, including at the UN Security Council and General Assembly, before he returns to Europe and West Africa, reports the Sydney Morning Herald.

Ebola has so-far been centered on the West African countries of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, and has infected 6,553 people and killed 3,083. So far the outbreak looks like it’s been arrested in neighboring Senegal and Nigeria, but the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) believes that if it is not contained Ebola may infect 1.4 million by January.

And second, via Reuters:

World Bank chief says Ebola outbreak shows harm of inequality

Fighting the Ebola epidemic means confronting the issue of inequality, as people in poor countries have less access to knowledge and infrastructure for treating the sick and containing the deadly virus, the head of the World Bank said.

Three poor countries in West Africa – Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone – have seen their health systems overwhelmed by the worst outbreak of the disease on record. The epidemic has killed at least 3,000 people in the region.

“Now, thousands of people in these (three) countries are dying because, in the lottery of birth, they were born in the wrong place,” World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said in prepared remarks at Howard University in Washington.

“This … shows the deadly cost of unequal access to basic services and the consequences of our failure to fix this problem.”

Now to Texas, first with KDFW Fox 4 in Dallas:

Dallas patient in serious condition with Ebola

A Dallas hospital patient has tested positive for Ebola, the first case ever diagnosed in the United States.

The patient, currently in serious condition, is at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital. Officials at the hospital admitted on Wednesday the patient told a nurse on his initial visit he had been in West Africa, but due to a communication breakdown he was sent home. He returned to the hospital two days later in an ambulance.

CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D. said that the patient did not show any symptoms when leaving Liberia on Sept. 19 or entering the U.S. on Sept. 20.

United Airlines said Wednesday it believes the patient spent part of his flights out of Africa to the U.S. on United flights. United believes he was on a Brussels to Washington Dulles Flight 951 and Dulles to Dallas-Fort Worth Flight 822 on Sept. 20. Officials said there is no risk to anyone on those flights.

The patient, identified by relatives as Thomas Eric Duncan, was staying at the Ivy Apartments on Fair Oaks Avenue in Dallas. The complex is just southeast of the hospital where he’s being treated.

More from the Guardian:

Man diagnosed with Ebola virus in US was sent home for two days

  • Dallas hospital says patient’s symptoms were not definitive when he was first seen, as officials urge people not to panic

The first patient to be diagnosed with Ebola outside Africa during the latest outbreak was sent home with a course of antibiotics for two days after seeking medical care at a Dallas hospital last week, a hospital official said.

The patient, believed to be male, was admitted to an isolation unit at Texas Health Presbyterian hospital on Sunday, after coming to the same hospital two days before.

Edward Goodman, the infectious disease specialist at Texas Health Presbyterian hospital, told National Public Radio that the patient’s symptoms were not definitive when he was first seen. Goodman said: “He was evaluated for his illness, which was very nondescript. He had some laboratory tests, which were not very impressive, and he was dismissed with some antibiotics.”

Medical officials in the US announced on Tuesday that tests confirmed the man, who had travelled from Liberia, had Ebola.

Still more from CNBC:

US Ebola patient said he was from Liberia: Sister

The sister of the first Ebola patient diagnosed in the United States says he told relatives he notified officials the first time he went to the hospital that he was visiting from Liberia.

The individual claiming to be the patient’s sister said he went to a Dallas emergency room on Friday and they sent him home with antibiotics. She says he said hospital officials asked for his Social Security number and he said that he didn’t have one because he was visiting from Liberia.

The patient arrived in the U.S. on Sept. 20 to be with relatives in Dallas. He began to develop symptoms last Wednesday and sought care two days later. He was released and returned to the hospital and was admitted Sunday.

A video report from RT America:

Dallas hospital sent Ebola patient home despite exhibiting symptoms

Program notes:

Doctors confirmed on Tuesday the first case of Ebola inside the US. Thomas Eric Duncan is in serious but stable condition after being admitted to Texas Health Presbyterian hospital in Dallas. He first exhibited symptoms of the virus on September 26 and went to the same hospital where he is now being treated, but was sent home without being tested despite his recent arrival from Liberia. RT’s Manila Chan has more details on the response to the diagnosis and the seeming lapse in protocol.

Reuters poses necessary questions:

Experts question two-day delay in admitting Texas Ebola patient

For months, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been warning American hospitals that Ebola was just a plane ride away. The CDC has urged hospital emergency department staff to ask patients whether they have recently traveled to Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea, the three countries hardest hit by the worst Ebola outbreak on record.

At least 3,091 people have died from Ebola since the West African outbreak was first reported in a remote forest region of Guinea in March.

It was only on that second visit on Sunday, however, that the hospital learned that the patient had recently arrived in the United States from Liberia and admitted him to an isolation unit.

Dr. Goodman said the hospital is reviewing what they might have missed on the patient’s initial visit. “Our staff is thoroughly trained on infectious disease protocols. We have been meeting literally for weeks in anticipation of such an event,” he said.

While the New York Times looks at practical epidemiology:

After Ebola Case in Dallas, Health Officials Seek Those Who Had Contact With Patient

Although the man flew into the country about 10 days ago on a commercial airliner, officials said that he had shown no symptoms of the disease while on the flight and that he had posed no threat to other passengers.

Officials are focused on finding people who came into contact with the man after he began showing symptoms, on Sept. 24. As a patient becomes sicker and the virus replicates in the body, the likelihood of the disease spreading grows.

Dallas County officials said Wednesday they believed the man had come into contact with 12 to 18 people when he was experiencing symptoms. So far, none has been confirmed infected.

More from BBC News:

Ebola crisis: Texas children ‘monitored for symptoms’

Schoolchildren have come into contact with the first patient to be diagnosed with Ebola on US soil, the governor of Texas has said.

At a news conference at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, Rick Perry said the children were being monitored “at home” for symptoms.

The patient is thought to have contracted the virus in Liberia before coming to the US nearly two weeks ago. He is in a serious condition, a spokeswoman for the hospital said.

“Today we learned that some school-age children had been identified as having had contact with the patient and are now being monitored at home for any signs of the disease,” Mr Perry said.

And the New York Times tracks down the exposure route:

U.S. Patient Aided Pregnant Liberian, Then Took Ill

  • Liberian Officials Identify Ebola Victim in Texas as Thomas Eric Duncan

A man who flew to Dallas and was later found to have the Ebola virus was identified by senior Liberian government officials on Wednesday as Thomas Eric Duncan, a resident of Monrovia in his mid-40s.

Mr. Duncan, the first person to develop symptoms outside Africa during the current epidemic, had direct contact with a woman stricken by Ebola on Sept. 15, just four days before he left Liberia for the United States, the woman’s parents and Mr. Duncan’s neighbors said.

In a pattern often seen here in Monrovia, the Liberian capital, the family of the woman, Marthalene Williams, 19, took her by taxi to a hospital with Mr. Duncan’s help on Sept. 15 after failing to get an ambulance, said her parents, Emmanuel and Amie Williams. She was convulsing and seven months pregnant, they said.

From International Business Times, contagion?:

Possible Second US Ebola Patient Being Monitored In Dallas

Health officials in Dallas are monitoring a possible second Ebola patient who had close contact with the first person in the U.S. diagnosed with the deadly virus, the director of Dallas County’s health department said Wednesday. Everyone who had close contact with the man officially diagnosed is being monitored as a precaution, Zachary Thompson told WFAA-TV Dallas-Fort Worth.

“Let me be real frank to the Dallas County residents: The fact that we have one confirmed case, there may be another case that is a close associate with this particular patient,” he said. “So this is real. There should be a concern, but it’s contained to the specific family members and close friends at this moment.”

International Business Times again, with another impact:

Ebola In The US: Liberian-Americans On Edge After First Virus Diagnosis In America

The Liberian-American community is on edge following the diagnosis of the first case of the Ebola virus in the U.S., both out of fear of discrimination and concerns that it will be more difficult to visit family back home in West Africa. A man in Texas was confirmed as the first U.S. Ebola case Tuesday and there’s a possibility that he also may have infected more than a dozen other people.

“We were shocked when we first heard about the case,” said Nathaniel Kerkulah, chairman of the Oregon Association for Liberia, a nonprofit in Portland composed of Liberian immigrants. “This is something that our community has been on the watchout for. We as a community have to watch out for friends who are moving back and forth.”

He said a Liberian-American woman who had been in the United States for 10 years recently brought her sick American-born child to a hospital and was greeted with panic. “Everybody kind of separated themselves from her, running away from her,” Kerkulah said. “When you say, ‘I’m from Liberia,’ people have that fear.”

From Voice of America, high-flying anxiety:

Concerned, US Airlines Contact Government About Ebola

U.S. airlines and their trade group Airlines for America are in close contact with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on actions the U.S. government is taking to address Ebola health concerns, according to a spokesperson for JetBlue.

The statement comes a day after the first case of the deadly virus was diagnosed in Dallas, Texas, prompting concerns that others may have been exposed to Ebola before the victim sought hospital treatment. According to U.S. health officials, the man sought treatment six days after arriving in Texas on Sept. 20.

The first patient diagnosed in the U.S. with an Ebola infection traveled from Liberia to Texas via Brussels, Canadian chief public health officer Greg Taylor said on Wednesday.

USA Today reassures:

Health officials see low risk of Ebola on flights

Health officials say the risk of spreading Ebola through airline travel is low, even though a man who traveled from Liberia to the United States was diagnosed with the disease, because travelers from affected countries are screened before boarding and the often fatal disease is not transmitted when an infected person has no symptoms.

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa, which has infected 6,500 people and killed 3,000, has prompted screening of travelers for fever at airports across Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, and in Lagos, Nigeria.

The patient diagnosed Tuesday in Dallas had flown Sept. 19 from Liberia and arrived in the USA on Sept. 20. He had passed the fever screening and developed symptoms only on Sept. 24. He sought treatment Sept. 26.

As does the Los Angeles Times:

Could an Africa-sized Ebola outbreak happen in U.S.? Officials say no

More than 3,000 people are believed to have died in West Africa during the worst outbreak ever of Ebola. But public health officials are confident that the United States will not confront a similar crisis and point to the nation’s modern medical and public health system, past experience and the nature of the disease for their optimism.

“I have no doubt that we’ll stop this in its tracks in the U.S.,” Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said at a news conference Tuesday, announcing the first diagnosed case of Ebola in the United States. “The bottom line here is that I have no doubt that we will control this importation, or this case, of Ebola so that it does not spread widely in this country.”

Frieden’s words were designed to reassure a public whose movie, television and reading fare for generations has included a killer disease – usually coming out of Africa – that spreads seemingly without end until heroic doctors fight a difficult battle that is narrowly won at the end, saving humanity.

And from the CDC, preparations in hand:

CDC and Texas Health Department Confirm First Ebola Case Diagnosed in the U.S.

  • Hospitalized patient had recently returned from West Africa; active contact tracing underway

CDC recognizes that even a single case of Ebola diagnosed in the United States raises concerns. Knowing the possibility exists, medical and public health professionals across the country have been preparing to respond. CDC and public health officials in Texas are taking precautions to identify people who have had close personal contact with the ill person, and health care professionals have been reminded to use meticulous infection control at all times.

We do know how to stop Ebola’s further spread: thorough case finding, isolation of ill people, contacting people exposed to the ill person, and further isolation of contacts if they develop symptoms. The U.S. public health and medical systems have had prior experience with sporadic cases of diseases such as Ebola. In the past decade, the United States had 5 imported cases of viral hemorrhagic fever (VHF) diseases similar to Ebola (1 Marburg, 4 Lassa). None resulted in any transmission in the United States.

CDC has been anticipating and preparing for a case of Ebola in the United States. We have been:

  • Enhancing surveillance and laboratory testing capacity in states to detect cases
  • Developing guidance and tools for health departments to conduct public health investigations
  • Providing recommendations for  healthcare infection control and other measures to prevent disease spread
  • Providing guidance for flight crews, Emergency Medical Services units at airports, and Customs and Border Protection officers about reporting ill travelers to CDC
  • Disseminating up-to-date information to the general public, international travelers, and public health partners

From CNBC, inquiring minds want to know:

What preppers are doing about Ebola

“I think that a lot of people who are involved in the preparedness community already have the supplies to handle a wide variety of crises,” said Daisy Luther, who runs The Organic Prepper blog.

“Many of us do keep pandemic supplies on hand: things like nitrile gloves, N95 and N100 masks and sanitation supplies. Others who have been aware of the need but who have not yet made the purchases will very likely be on Amazon, ordering the necessary supplies, just in case this does turn into a pandemic.”

People with closer ties to the survivalist retail world, though say they do expect to see some kind of sales bump. (Early figures from Amazon bear this out; as of Wednesday sales of a type of full-body protective suits were up 131,000 percent and sales for one type of mask had risen 18,000 percent in 24 hours. Amazon does not give actual sales figures.)

And from Taiwan, an unusual declaration via the China Post:

US Ebola report does not warrant travel alert: gov’t

There is no need to issue a health advisory against travel to the United States in the wake of the country’s first reported case of Ebola, Taiwan’s Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said Wednesday.

The public does not need to overreact as the U.S. has a well-established public health and medical care system, said CDC Deputy Director Chou Jih-haw.

Although Taiwan is not planning to issue a travel alert for the U.S., the CDC has been watching the international outbreak closely and is carrying out clinical drills nationwide, he said.

While CBC News mulls north-of-the-border anxieties:

Ebola risk low, but some infections expected, says B.C. medical officer

  • System in place to screen people arriving with symptoms from Africa

B.C.’s provincial health officer says it would not be surprising to see cases of the Ebola virus appear, but that there is no reason for alarm.

“We likely think over the next six months [we’ll] probably import a case or two, or maybe even three,” Dr. Perry Kendall told CBC News.

“But the chances of them — once they’re in hospital and isolated — infecting anybody else is slim.” The province is prepared to deal with such cases, should they arise, he said.

And the London Daily Mail highlights fear in Old Blighty:

Did US Ebola victim change flights at Heathrow? Patient flew from Liberia to Brussels but route to Dallas could have taken him through London

  • It is feared that as many as 12 Americans may have become infected through contact with the patient
  • A second male patient, who came in close contact with several children, is being watched today as his condition was upgraded to serious
  • First male patient who traveled to Dallas, Texas from Liberia is quarantined at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital
  • He is first person diagnosed with Ebola in U.S. as CDC ‘disease detectives’ arrived in Texas today to track down anyone he came in contact with
  • Patient arrived in U.S. on September 20 – after flying from Liberia via Brussels in Belgium – but did not develop symptoms until September 24
  • He attended Texas Health Presbyterian on September 26 – but was dismissed with antibiotics
  • He was rushed to hospital vomiting two days later by EMTs

Now on to the continent where the real tragedy is unfolding, first with Punch Nigeria:

Experts develop harmonised message on Ebola

Regional and international communication experts have developed a harmonised message to address the information gap in national and regional responses to the Ebola Virus Disease which has claimed more than 3,000 lives from the more than 6,000 cases reported in the West African region.

A statement by the Economic Community of West African States Commission on Wednesday in Abuja, stated that in addition to the strategic and key behaviour change messages designed to sensitise and elicit appropriate actions from targeted audiences in the Ebola affected and non-affected countries, the experts also identified appropriate channels for the transmission of the messages.

It said that the message, the outcome of a workshop in Accra held between September 29 and 30,2014, was crafted in simple, direct and action-oriented language to elicit maximum impact and responses from the target audiences for the effective prevention, containment, management and control of the deadly Ebola disease.

The statement identified the target audiences for the messages to include the public, communities, traditional and religious leaders, infected persons, their families, survivors, health workers, and border communities.

Others are educational institutions, armed and security forces, the private sector, hunters and bush meat sellers, traditional healers and birth attendants, nursing mothers, mortuary attendants and the media.

From the Thomson Reuters Foundation, collateral damage in West Africa:

W. Africa Ebola crisis hits tourism, compounds hunger in Gambia

Pestilence, cyclical droughts and floods, and the West Africa Ebola crisis have pushed hunger to record levels in Gambia, where 200,000 people need urgent food assistance, the United Nations says.

Tourism is a significant source of income for the country, and even though Gambia has not seen cases of Ebola, the outbreak in the region has caused visitor numbers to plummet by 60 percent compared to last year, said Ade Mamonyane Lekoetje, the U.N. representative for Gambia.

“In 2011-12 we had the floods and droughts, then in 2013 we had the birds eating all the crops, and now we have Ebola threatening the tourist industry, a lifeline to farmers who need to top up their household income,” Lekoetje told the Thomson Reuters Foundation at a donor gathering in Dakar.

“The government is keen to emphasise Gambia is Ebola-free,” she added, noting that the true impact of the outbreak will not be known until after the tourist high season from October to April.

After the jump, the body count in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, American boots on the ground in Liberia and a major general’s vow, Ebola hits Liberia’s army, a government near-shutdown, a pay increase and death benefit promised for public health staff, buoying hope and help in a hard-hit community, malaria and other deaths rise because of overtaxed healthcare workers — and a legislator’s daughter dies, schools remain closed, UN extends its mission to Liberia, Ebola crisis aid eases Monrovia’s deficit, then off to Sierra Leone and a hospital from hell as Ebola continues to rage, with cultural outrage over burial practices, more British financial help, and educational takes to the airwaves, then to Nigeria and an epidemic vanquished [though there’s some editorial umbrage], plus a win on the media front, a call for blood, rules for reporting, and why America’s first Ebola case sparked major rallies for two stocks. . . Continue reading

EbolaWatch: Warnings, aid, improv, anxiety


First the latest estimate [PDF] of cases in the hardest hit countries from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control:

BLOG Ebola

Next, an African Ebola update from CCTV Africa:

Ebola: Efforts to Contain the Virus Intensified

Program notes:

There have been several developments when it comes to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa – including fresh warnings and more international assistance. Susan Mwongeli reports

From Monrovia, Liberia, the Inquirer seeks to allay anxieties:

U.S. Troops Not Here To Unseat Gov’t…Ambassador Refutes Rumor

United States Ambassador, Deborah R. Malac, has clarified that the United States Army is in Liberia to help the Government of Liberia fight the deadly Ebola virus and not to unseat the present government.

Addressing a news conference held at the United States Embassy in Monrovia yesterday, Ambassador Malac disclosed that the U.S. Army has come with additional capacity to join with other international partners to fight the disease.

Also speaking, Major General Darryl Williams, Commanding General/Joint Forces Command, United Assistance said the numbers of US soldiers are in Liberia to fill the gap and accomplish the mission that they came for.

More from FrontPageAfrica:

‘A Deadly Foe’, Man Leading U.S. Liberia Ebola Mission Declares

Monrovia – The man leading the United States of America military wing in the fight against the deadly Ebola Joint Task Force Command, United Assistance, Maj. General Darryl A. Williams said his men have been working with members of the Armed Forces of Liberia to accelerate Liberia’s response to the deadly Ebola virus. JTFC Maj. Gen. Williams speaking at a news conference at the U.S. Embassy in Monrovia said the U.S. military in West Africa is working in a support role, bringing its unique ability to organizations that have been in Liberia fighting the Ebola virus disease for months.

He said the lead US federal agency in this response is the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). “As our military forces continue to flow in, we will continue to work together, so that we compliment each other’s abilities and efforts to support the government of Liberia,” he said.

“We will also be partnering with the Armed Forces of Liberia and they’re eager to help their fellow countrymen. Our soldiers, sailors, airmen, marine, are working side by side with our Liberian Host and build on our already special relationship.”

From the Japan Times, Liberian aid arrives:

U.S. Ebola labs, parts for clinic arrive in Liberia

U.S. mobile Ebola labs should be up and running in Liberia this week and American troops have broken ground for a field hospital as the international community races to increase the ability to care for the spiraling number of people infected with the dreaded disease.

Liberia is the hardest-hit country in the largest-ever Ebola outbreak, which has touched four other West African countries. More than 3,000 deaths have been linked to the disease across the region, according to the World Health Organization, in the largest outbreak ever.

But even that toll is likely an underestimate, partially because there aren’t enough labs to test people for Ebola. WHO has warned that numbers for Liberia, in particular, have lagged behind reality because it takes so long to get test results back.

From the Inquirer in Monrovia, more aid, domemtically supplied:

Gov’t Brings In 12 Ambulances…As Ebola Now Reaches The 15 Counties

The Ebola Case Management head and Assistant Health Minister for Preventive Service, Mr. Tolbert Nyenswah, has disclosed that 12 Ambulances recently procured by the Government of Liberia (GOL) are promptly responding to the Ebola outbreak in the country.

Minister Nyenswah said the response effort is ongoing well and it is sure that Ebola will be eradicated now that patients are being transported safely to the various Ebola Treatment Units (ETUs).

Nyenswah who was addressing the daily Ebola Press Conference at the Ministry of Information yesterday said government will soon trace and identify Ebola patients as part of the ongoing fight against the menace.

Minister Nyenswah said currently the testing of Ebola patients has increased to 300 daily as a means of speeding up treatment and response.

The NewDawn in Liberia covers another cash infusion:

Liberia gets US$11.4 Million from ADB

The African Development Bank has provided a grant of US$11.4 Million to the Government of Liberia in support of its current fight against the deadly Ebola virus.

Deputy Health Minister for Preventive Services, Tolbert Nyenswah, has described the bank’s gesture as timely. Minister Nyenswah said portion of the money will be used to construct community care centers in Ebola hit communities around the country.

He noted that there have been some improvements in combating the virus since international partners like the African Development Bank, World Bank, and IMF begun providing financial aid to Liberia. Signing for the grant on behalf of the Liberian government, Finance Minister Amara Konneh, thanked the bank for the money.

CBC News covers another cause for anxiety:

Ebola virus in Liberia creates body recovery dangers

  • Workers struggle to gather and dispose of corpses as outbreak spreads

It’s a sad fact of life in Monrovia, Liberia, these days.

The wail of an ambulance siren doesn’t mean help is on the way. More often than not, it signals that a convoy carrying the “dead body management team” is about to arrive.

On Monday, CBC News rode along in one of those convoys. The weather was miserable. The task at hand was even more so.

Voice of America covers frustration:

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

In order to avoid human-to-human transmission of the deadly Ebola virus, the Liberian government temporarily closed schools, universities and other major public gathering points some months ago. Without the prospect of going back to school any time soon, hundreds of students took to the streets of Monrovia  Monday to express their frustration.

For any employer, it’s good times in Liberia. Thousands of young educated but idle people abound since schools and universities have been closed for months. So it was no problem for Department of Children and Family director, Victor Fayah, to do recruiting for a non-paying job.

“We received the first 2,000 people and now we’re above 4,200 people,” Fayah said. “There is more people still coming in with their CV [resume] willing to go to all the counties, to go to the rural villages, to walk even, eight hours walk to get to some villages, to talk to our people in their language that they can understand, the best way that they can understand the issue of Ebola.”

And FrontPageAfrica covers improvisation [and do see the pictures at the link]:

Creative Danger: Liberians Use Artificial PPE to Aid Ebola Patients

With four ambulances lineup at the Medicine San Frontier-MSF run Ebola Treatment Unit (ETU) also known as ELWA-3, Lawrence Paye and four others arrived with their sick relative, wearing artificial Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) made of plastic bags.

They had come from the Fendell Community, few kilometers from Monrovia, taking mater in their hands after efforts to get an ambulance to pick up their sick relative failed for two days, as Paye, the husband to the sick Comfort Togbah explained.

With the ETU workers yet to admit patients from the four parked ambulances, into the center on a rainy afternoon, a yellow bus showed up with Comfort who was bleeding from the mouth, one of the symptoms of the acute stage of the Ebola virus, unable to walk as her brother fed her with water.

Since the outbreak of the deadly virus in Liberia, donations from local and international organizations including individuals have been forthcoming. China has so far donated thousands of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) and other countries have made donations in materials in an attempt to equip health workers to fight the virus but without PPEs in homes, Liberians are finding a way out to help sick relatives.

With health facilities overwhelmed by the number of patients ambulances have not been able to collect sick people from various communities as in many instances, calls are made for up to three days or even more before an ambulance shows up to pick a sick. Paye along with two other men and a lady created a scene to watch for many onlookers when they disembarked the bus wearing the artificial PPEs which they used to cover their hands, feet and heads.

Deutsche Welle covers a promise:

UN Ebola chief vows swift progress in fighting outbreak

The UN’s Ebola response chief has vowed to achieve significant progress within 60 days. UNICEF, meanwhile, has warned thousands of children who have lost parents to the epidemic are at risk of being shunned by relatives.

The UN Ebola mission head, Tony Banbury, told reporters on Tuesday that swift action would be taken in combating the Ebola crisis.

“We don’t know how long it will take. We hope to do it as fast as possible and to close the UNMEER (UN Mission on Ebla Emergency Response) as quickly as possible,” Banbury said, speaking at the headquarters of the United Nations mission in Accra, Ghana.

“Seventy percent of infected people need to be under treatment, 70 percent of burials need to be done in a safe way in order to turn this around and we need to do it in 60 days,” Banbury said.

“It’s an extremely … ambitious target and the only way it will be achieved is through this international effort,” he added.

While the Thomson Reuters Foundation sounds a warning from a familiar name:

Bill Gates warns Ebola could spread beyond West Africa

It is impossible to guess whether world leaders have done enough to bring the Ebola epidemic under control, given the risks that it will spread to countries beyond West Africa, the technology billionaire and philanthropist Bill Gates said on Monday.

Countries should get ready to handle a possible outbreak of the deadly hemorrhagic fever in case it spreads further as people from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea move across borders, Gates said at a breakfast meeting sponsored by the newspaper Politico and Bank of America.

“Because of that uncertainty, I am not going to hazard a guess,” Gates said when asked whether he thinks the massive ramping up of international aid over the past few weeks is enough.

The Sun Nigeria covers another development:

Lagos ready to fund research on Ebola

  • … As Fashola challenges Iwu, others

Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola, yesterday, said the state government is prepared to provide funds required to carry out research that can lead to finding cure for the deadly Ebola virus disease (EVD).Speaking during the disbursement of grants to 31 beneficiaries whose research proposals had been approved by the Lagos State Research and Development Council, the governor specifically challenged Prof. Maurice Iwu to come up with a lucid proposal on his Bitter Kola theory, saying the state government would be willing to sponsor it.

Fashola also challenged scholars and researchers in the country to move beyond title earning to contributing meaningfully to the development of the country through their researches.

He said professors, Phd holders and other scholars were respected not because of the finery of their titles but because of their intelligence and what they have to offer the society.

And Punch Nigeria covers a settlement:

Bayelsa, NUT face-off ends, teachers begin Ebola training

The face-off between the National Union of Teachers, Bayelsa State chapter, and the state government over resumption date appears to have been resolved.

The teachers’ umbrella body in the state had vowed not to resume schools until the teachers were equipped and trained about measures to tackle the dreaded Ebola virus.

On Tuesday, teachers resumed schools after the government commenced training of no fewer than 484 teachers on preventive measures against the dreaded EVD.

While IRIN focus on the media:

Ebola and the media – Nigeria’s good news story

At 67 million users, Nigeria reportedly has the eighth largest Internet population in the world. It also had close to 166 million mobile subscribers as of June. (The country’s population is 175 million.)

With so many Nigerians online, portals like ebolalert.org set up by volunteer doctors, and the public/private ebolafacts.com initiative, have become important channels to provide accurate information to help people stay safe. They complement telephone hotlines and more traditional public health approaches.

The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has also taken a role in the communications work on Ebola, using the SMS portal UReport. UReport Nigeria is a free SMS platform designed as a community-based two-way information exchange mechanism. According to UNICEF Communications Specialist Geoffrey Njoku, over 57,000 people received more than 3.6 million SMS containing key messages about Ebola and how to stay protected over a six-week period.

The bottom line: Good news from the New York Times:

Ebola Outbreak in Nigeria Appears to Be Over

With quick and coordinated action by some of its top doctors, Africa’s most populous country seems to have beaten its first Ebola outbreak, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday.

Since the first patient — a dying Liberian-American — flew into Lagos, Nigeria, on July 20, the disease spread to 20 other people in two cities, who had contact with nearly 900 others. But every known case has now died or recovered, and the cure rate was unusually high for an African outbreak. Virtually all the contacts have passed the incubation period without falling ill.

The success was in part due to the existence of an emergency command center paid for by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to fight polio. As soon as the outbreak began, it was turned into the Ebola Emergency Operations Center.

But the good news hasn’t stopped preventative efforts, and screening at ports has just been implemented, reports Agence France-Presse:

Ebola screening for ships’ crews in Nigeria

Program notes:

Health officials have begun the screening of cargo ship crews transiting through Nigeria to prevent cross border transmission of Ebola through sea and cargo ports.

Another screening program, via Voice of America:

Guinea Intensifies Ebola Screening at Sierra Leone Border

Guinean security forces are intensifying their Ebola screening efforts at the border with Sierra Leone.

At the Madina Oula town crossing, people are subjected to rigorous health checks.  Guinean security forces check for fever and instruct all travelers to wash their hands with soap before entering Guinea.

Kindia, the district capital, is a short distance away – just 150 kilometers from the Guinean capital of Conakry.

From BuzzFeed, a tragic consequence:

Thousands Of Children Orphaned By Ebola Have Been Rejected By Their Relatives And Communities

  • At least 3,700 children in West Africa have lost one or both parents to Ebola, according to UNICEF

More than 3,000 people have died in the deadly Ebola outbreak plaguing West Africa, according to the World Health Organization. The crisis is worsening in Sierra Leone, with over 2 million people under quarantine.

UNICEF said it is working with authorities in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea to help train medical and mental health workers to provide care and support to children who have been rejected by their communities as well as to quarantined children.

The organization said it was also working to reunite separated children with their families. UNICEF will also provide about 60,000 vulnerable children and families in Guinea with psychosocial support.

From TheLocal.se, another European non-infection:

Stockholm patient tests negative after Ebola fears

A patient in a Stockholm hospital who was suspected of having contracted the Ebola virus was given the all clear on Tuesday morning.

“We’ve analysed the tests and we can announce that the person has not contracted Ebola,” Åke Örtqvist, spokesperson for doctors dealing with infectious diseases in the Stockholm region, said in a statement.

The case marked the fifth suspected case in Sweden since the virus started spreading rapidly in Africa earlier this year, all of which has been proven negative.

And to close whilst on the subject of fears, what about those anxieties certain to afflict those who have volunteered to fight the disease? From the National:

What to expect when returning from West Africa

Program notes:

Dr. Tim Jagatic, from Doctors Without Borders, shares his advice for coming home after working in an Ebola outbreak zone.

Two visions of the 1960s, seen from the Bay


The San Francisco Bay Area was a cultural stew in ferment in the 1960s, with the early years of the decade consumed in political unrest, most notably on the Berkeley campus of the University of California where the Free Speech Movement was to galvanize the nation, and neatly dressed and conventionally barbered students rose up over suppression of tables where student groups leafleted and cajoled students about causes and campaigns of all persuasions.

Our first video is a talk by the biographer of the movement’s seminal figure, Mario Savio, which we’ll preface with a clip of Savio himself, delivering the lines for which he is best-remembered. Via Anything that defies my sense of reason…..:

Mario Savio: Sproul Hall Steps, December 2, 1964

Excerpt:

“There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part; you can’t even passively take part, and you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop. And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all!”

“Savio’s moral clarity, his eloquence, and his democratic style of leadership inspired thousands of fellow Berkeley students to protest university regulations which severely limited political speech and activity on campus. The non-violent campaign culminated in the largest mass arrest in American history, drew widespread faculty support, and resulted in a revision of university rules to permit political speech and organising. This significant advance for student freedom rapidly spread to countless other colleges and universities across the country.” Via stonecast, see here:

More here: http://tinyurl.com/3b46o2

Savio’s passion sparked an ongoing interest by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, resulting in a large collection of files now posted online.

Robert Cohen, social studies and history professor at New York University, is the author of the 2009 biography Freedom’s Orator: Mario Savio and the Radical Legacy of the 1960s, and he spoke at Berkeley 23 September at the university’s On the Page forum for new students. He was the logical choice given the Free Speech’s Movement’s 50th anniversary now underway.

From UC Berkeley Events:

Can Students Change the World? Mario Savio and the Radical Legacy of the 1960s

Program notes:

Author Robert Cohen delivers the keynote address for the 2014 On the Same Page program. This year’s theme is the 50th anniversary of the Free Speech Movement, and the selected book is Cohen’s biography of Mario Savio, Freedom’s Orator.

The Human Be-In, 14 January 1967

Our second video is historic, captured two years on the other side of the Bay Bridge, at the San Francisco Polo Grounds.

It lacks the fervor of Savio’s speech, with some speakers notably unfocused and others endeavoring to gain an entirely new focus. Many of the musical groups skyrocketed to stardom, and some of the speakers would be reviled in mainstream media.

But the event would prove transformational, gathering the attention of the world’s press and triggering an obsession with all things Hippie [a neologism by San Francisco Chronicle columnist Herb Caen]. The media feeding frenzy would reach orgasmic levels later that year in San Francisco’s famous Summer of Love.

The Allen Ginsburg Project recounts the Human Be-In through the perspective of Michael Bowen, key organized an event that electrified the rapidly emerging psychedelic movement in the counterculture and showcased legendary musicians, including a trumpet solo from Dizzy Gillespie:

“There were some old rugs and inexpensive Indian cloth prints laid out on (a) flatbed truck along with some pillows. The well-known spiritual, intellectual, and writer friends that Michael Bowen had talked into coming to the event from all over America, sat on those pillows and on those rugs in a human-tableau designed as a piece of living art. They included Allen Ginsberg, Timothy Leary, Gary Snyder, Jack Weinberg, Michael McClure, Richard Alpert, Lenore Kandel, Suzuki Roshi from the local Zen Center, and Jerry Rubin, along with Bowen’s good friends, the drummers with their drums from the mountains of Big Sur, California. The people who were arriving could see that those “famous” individuals, whose work they had read directly, or read about in the media, had also journeyed to the Be-In to simply sit and be with them as equals.”

Cohen – “The Gathering of the Tribes” in a “union of love and activism” was an overwhelming success, Over twenty thousand people came to the Polo Fields in Golden Gate Park. The psychedelic bands played – Jefferson Airplane, The Grateful Dead and Quicksilver Messenger Service. Poets Allen Ginsberg, Gary Snyder, Michael McClure, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Lew Welch, and Lenore Kandel, read, chanted and sang. Tim(othy) Leary told everyone to “Turn on, Tune in and Drop out”, the Diggers gave out free food. The Hells Angels guarded the generator cables that someone had cut, Owsley Stanley gave out free acid; a parachutist dropped like an angel from the sky and the whole world watched on the evening news.

More here and here.

We can remember avidly reading accounts of the event as they poured out of the noisy teletypes at the Las Vegas Review-Journal, where we were 20 years old and less than a year into our first job at a daily newspaper. We had dropped our first hit of acid at a college prof’s Christmas party.

With that, from Docs&Interviews on MV:

Human Be-In – Full Program – 1/14/1967 – Polo Fields, Golden Gate Park

H/T to Open Culture.

One key difference between the audience at Sproul Hall was the LSD mentioned by the Allen Ginsburg Project.

It their marvelous 1985 history Acid Dreams, the Complete Social History of LSD: The CIA, the Sixties, and Beyond [out of print but online here], Martin A. Lee and Bruce Shlain note that Be-In organizer Bowen was a member of “a small but dedicated band of acid evangelists known as the Psychedelic Rangers,” evangelists for LSD who baptized recruits with large doses.

But many other seminal figures, including Ginsburg himself and novelist Ken Kesey, got their first hits of acid as subjects in research funded by the Central Intelligence Agency [which once ran an operation dosing prostitutes’ clients in San Francisco and secretly filming the results]. In the words of John Lennon, “We must always remember to thank the CIA and the Army for LSD, by the way.”

LSD was cool, the Free Speech Movement had been hot.

Both movements would recede in subsequent years, though their legacies would linger. While Savio spoke of active resistance, Timothy Leary preached a gospel of Turn On, Tune In, and Drop Out [a perfect strategy, one might note, for blunting the edge of those who might otherwise Turn On, Tune In, and Stay In.

EbolaWatch: Arts, shortages, suffering, more


We begin today’s coverage with two videos from CCTV Africa focusing on the Ebola crisis and the performing arts.

Our first offering focuses on Ugandan playwright Phillip Luswata’s Get Away from Me, a dramatization of the Ebola crisis and its impact on everyday life:

Ebola Crisis: Fighting Ebola Through Theatre

Program notes:

Until this outbreak, Uganda had suffered the greatest number of ebola flare-ups. But this time, it’s managed to avoid any cases. Officials attribute that to good awareness among the population. The virus has even inspired a stage-play in Kampala. CCTV’s Leon Ssenyange reports.

Next, a report on the use of music to educate an anxious and often-misinformed public:

Ebola Crisis : Songs of Awareness on The Virus

Program notes:

Authorities have been resorting to drastic measures to try and curb the spread of Ebola. In Sierra Leone, a full two million people are to be sealed off – and quarantined. Yet some are convinced there are more effective ways to save lives. CCTV’s Jane Kiyo has more

From CBC News, tragic failure:

Ebola outbreak: Clinics still short on doctors, supplies 6 months later

  • Bulk of promised global aid has yet to materialize on the ground

Doctors are in short supply. So are beds for patients. Six months after the Ebola outbreak emerged for the first time in an unprepared West Africa and eventually became the worst-ever outbreak, the gap between what has been sent by other countries and private groups and what is needed is huge.

Even as countries try to marshal more resources, those needs threaten to become much greater, and possibly even insurmountable.

Statistics reviewed by The Associated Press and interviews with experts and those on the scene of one of the worst health disasters in modern history show how great the needs are and how little the world has done in response. Some foreign medical workers have bravely fought on, a few even contracting Ebola themselves as they cared for patients.

IPS Inter Press Service News Agency raises more aid questions:

Militarising the Ebola Crisis

It’s unclear whether any U.S. healthcare personnel will actually treat patients, but according to the White House, “the U.S. Government will help recruit and organise medical personnel to staff” the centres and “establish a site to train up to 500 health care providers per week.”

The latter begs the question of practicality: where would these would-be health workers be recruited from?

According to the Obama administration, the package was requested directly by Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. (Notably, Liberia was the only African nation to offer to host AFRICOM’s headquarters in 2008, an offer AFRICOM declined and decided to set up in Germany instead).

Punch Nigeria makes a plea:

Ebola: Lab scientists want more protection for members

Chairman of the Association of Medical Laboratories Scientist in Nigeria, Oyo State Chapter, Akinbola Idowu, has called on the federal and state governments protect the interest of health workers especially laboratory scientists in their efforts to end the spread of Ebola Virus Disease in the country.

During a workshop held in Ibadan on Ebola for health laboratory workers and other categories of health workers who are considered vulnerable to the disease, because of the hazard involved in treating a suspected case and handling test samples, Idowu called on participants to be on the alert and take necessary precaution against possible infection.

He said, “It is highly important to appreciate the timing of this program because of the collective fight against EVD in our country.”

While the Guardian raises questions:

Liberian Senate calls for more transparency over Ebola funds

  • Full disclosure demanded over how $5m of government funding allocated for fighting outbreak has vanished so quickly

Stately and unassuming, Liberia’s national Ebola taskforce coordinator James Dorbor Jallah announced at a press conference in late August that the government’s initial $5m (£3m) contribution to contain the disease had been spent.

As he fumbled with the numbers in his expenditures report, the blogosphere exploded with queries about how all that money could vanish so quickly. Now, the Liberian Senate is demanding full disclosure of the Ebola funds’ whereabouts. To his credit, however, Jallah was attempting something that donors have yet to do: answer to the people in whose name “the war on Ebola” is being fought in west Africa. As we have seen all too often in international emergency response operations, the stakes are too high to forgo systems of accountability.

Médecins Sans Frontières, the leading health relief organisation in Liberia, has complained for weeks that resources committed to the Ebola crisis have been “entirely insufficient”. The latest projections from the UN indicate that almost $1bn will be needed to contain the Ebola outbreak in west Africa. Significant amounts of money have now started pouring in, with the fanfare we have come to expect in such situations. But commitments have not been matched with relevant tools and reports to track the flows of promised aid disbursals.

RFI covers those already marginalized:

Most vulnerable in Sierra Leone suffer under Ebola quarantine

As ordinary Sierra Leoneans navigate government-imposed curfews and quarantined areas in a new reality shaped by the deadly Ebola virus, the country’s most vulnerable are getting left behind.

Health ministries in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea have made an effort to educate the public, calling on them to wash their hands and avoid physical contact. But this has caused problems for the most vulnerable.

Voice of America covers crisis compounded:

Life Harder for Liberians Post-Ebola Quarantine

In West Point, one the Liberian capital Monrovia’s poorest neighborhoods, the situation is calm a month after the government forced quarantine on its inhabitants. But residents complain that businesses, social life and entertainment have suffered and other Monrovians treat them like outcasts.

On a cloudy day in the coastal city, fishermen can be seen offshore. Fishing is one of the city’s main livelihoods.

West Point made global news last month, when the government forced a quarantine on the entire community, following a high number of diagnosed Ebola cases.  The community rebelled with violent protests.

And a didactic headline from Angola Press News Agency:

Angola: Passengers At Airports Learn About Ebola Danger

The Angolan health authorities are is conducting awareness raising campaigns with passengers and workers at airports around the country about the danger posed by the Ebola epidemic hitting several West African nations.

The measure that includes the floating of banners in strategic locations near airports migration, check-in counters, embarking and disembarking lounges, is intended to inform the citizens and avoid the entry of the epidemic into the country.

With the outbreak of the disease in various African countries, the Angolan Health Ministry adopted strict surveillance measures at ports, airports and transports from regions with Ebola prevalence.

For our final item, another impact from New Zimbabwe:

Daring Sex Workers Introduce ‘Ebola Risk Allowance’

Commercial sex workers at Nyamapanda Border Post have started charging “Ebola risk insurance” in a bid to use the deadly outbreak to shake down truck drivers from outside Zimbabwe for extra cash.

Nyamapanda, on the border with Mozambique, is one of the access points used by truckers from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) which has been affected by the Ebola outbreak that has now killed more than 3,000 in West Africa.

The sex workers said they decided to use Ebola to make more money because business was down with local clients who have decided to zip it because of the country’s economic challenges.

Beam us up, Scottie: Cloaking is here


For folks of a certain age, the words “cloaking device” entered our vocabularies way back in 1968, when Star Trek introduced the concept to make the Romulan Bird of Prey a more interesting adversary and the target of espionage.

Well wait no more! The cloaking device is here, or at least an interesting protoype thereof.

From the University of Rochester:

The Rochester Cloak

Program notes:

Researchers at the University of Rochester Create a Three-dimensional, Transmitting, Continuously Multidirectional Cloaking Device

Inspired perhaps by Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak, scientists have recently developed several ways—some simple and some involving new technologies—to hide objects from view. The latest effort, developed at the University of Rochester, not only overcomes some of the limitations of previous devices, but it uses inexpensive, readily available materials in a novel configuration.

“There’ve been many high tech approaches to cloaking and the basic idea behind these is to take light and have it pass around something as if it isn’t there, often using high-tech or exotic materials,” said John Howell, a professor of physics at the University of Rochester. Forgoing the specialized components, Howell and graduate student Joseph Choi developed a combination of four standard lenses that keeps the object hidden as the viewer moves up to several degrees away from the optimal viewing position.

“This is the first device that we know of that can do three-dimensional, continuously multidirectional cloaking, which works for transmitting rays in the visible spectrum,” said Choi, a PhD student at Rochester’s Institute of Optics.

Many cloaking designs work fine when you look at an object straight on, but if you move your viewpoint even a little, the object becomes visible, explains Howell. Choi added that previous cloaking devices can also cause the background to shift drastically, making it obvious that the cloaking device is present.

In order to both cloak an object and leave the background undisturbed, the researchers determined the lens type and power needed, as well as the precise distance to separate the four lenses. To test their device, they placed the cloaked object in front of a grid background. As they looked through the lenses and changed their viewing angle by moving from side to side, the grid shifted accordingly as if the cloaking device was not there. There was no discontinuity in the grid lines behind the cloaked object, compared to the background, and the grid sizes (magnification) matched.

The Rochester Cloak can be scaled up as large as the size of the lenses, allowing fairly large objects to be cloaked. And, unlike some other devices, it’s broadband so it works for the whole visible spectrum of light, rather than only for specific frequencies.

Their simple configuration improves on other cloaking devices, but it’s not perfect. “This cloak bends light and sends it through the center of the device, so the on-axis region cannot be blocked or cloaked,” said Choi. This means that the cloaked region is shaped like a doughnut. He added that they have slightly more complicated designs that solve the problem. Also, the cloak has edge effects, but these can be reduced when sufficiently large lenses are used.

In a new paper submitted to the journal Optics Express and available on arXiv.org, Howell and Choi provide a mathematical formalism for this type of cloaking that can work for angles up to 15 degrees, or more. They use a technique called ABCD matrices that describes how light bends when going through lenses, mirrors, or other optical elements.

While their device is not quite like Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak, Howell had some thoughts about potential applications, including using cloaking to effectively let a surgeon “look through his hands to what he is actually operating on,” he said. The same principles could be applied to a truck to allow drivers to see through blind spots on their vehicles.

Howell became interested in creating simple cloaking devices with off-the-shelf materials while working on a holiday project with his children. Together with his 14 year-old son and Choi, he recently published a paper about some of the possibilities, and also demonstrated simple cloaking with mirrors, like magicians would use.

Big Data cyberstalking in the classroom


A 2012 video from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Educational Technology, a video distilling the inherent absurdities of the reductionism of the corporate quantifier when interjected into classroom:

Knewton – Education Datapalooza

Program notes:

What if your math syllabus could tell you what to eat for breakfast to score higher on your quiz tomorrow? Jose Ferreira, CEO of Knewton, shares his vision for a future where every student receives a truly personalized curriculum best suited to his or her needs. Knewton collects millions of data points about student users in order to provide them with more effective timing and content to enhance learning.

Such are the results of usually well-intentioned people seduced by the dream of reducing individuals to numbers in order to predict and shape behavior to meet the criteria set by like-minded and similarly schooled bureaucrats.

It helps, perhaps, that they are often further seduced by the notion of making millions. In the words of Tom Lehrer, “doing well by doing good.”

The problem with people, as with nature in general, is that complexity is the rule, not the exception, and attempting to constrain the actual to the numerical ideal often leads to the destruction of both.

From Lehrer & Anthems:

Tom Lehrer – The Old Dope Peddler