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How Carl Sagan Taught Me Everything that's Wrong with Standardized Testing

 Note: This article has been lightly edited to account for the fact that some of the original links are unavailable.

Today’s column focuses on something that, while certainly not as juicy as political intrigue, is really much more impactive in the scheme of things. I can’t make the topic of education more exciting, but I hope you’ll give it attention befitting its importance.

Still with me? Cool. Now imagine this: What if the tens of millions of people in America who regularly fall for all the BS that’s promulgated on cable “news” and the interwebs actually possessed and utilized the intellectual tools needed to see through the lies and propaganda?

The key to anyone being able to do this is an ability to engage in critical thinking, and the ability to do that is largely determined by the quality of one’s education.

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Bad Energy: How Dominion Power & other Big Corporate Profiteers Crush Consumers with Impunity

This time around, I want to discuss consumer rights vs. the rights of those who seek profit without limits, healthy competition or public scrutiny, and why the rights of profiteers always seem to dominate.

For example, there’s this story, in which our old friends at Dominion Power continue to promote their plan to string a high-voltage power line over a historic section of the James River.

Truthfully, I don’t think I’m as concerned with the aesthetics of Dominion’s proposal as those who so passionately oppose it. What I am opposed to is Dominion’s ongoing attempts to force a project on the people who do oppose it through extortion, intimidation and coercion.

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“The New Portsmouth”: A Hopeful Welcome to New City Manager Lydia Pettis Patton, & More Good News from Around #HRVA

This week, I want to take a break from poking the bear and point out some good things going on around the region. As always, I hope they represent a trend, and I want to encourage the kind of progress these positive actions represent. 

A ray of sunshine? Let’s hope so

I want to start this week in Portsmouth, but for a more positive reason than usual. I’ve spent a lot of time picking on Portsmouth, and frankly it’s been justified. The litany of problems that city faces–when combined with the incredibly poor leadership displayed by it’s elected representatives–have combined to leave Portsmouth in a particularly bad lurch.

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A Modest Proposal for a Local Roadway – with Thanks to a Giant of a Man

I hadn’t intended to write two back-to-back columns about infrastructure, but a confluence of events dictates otherwise.

The first of these is the recent passing of Louis Guy, a man I can easily describe as an “engineer’s engineer.” Louis was immensely respected in our region, not only for his engineering prowess, but for his love of local history and his passion for our region.

About three years ago, Louis had to drop something off at my home for a website I was working on. Over beverages, he listened while I pitched the idea I’ll describe in a minute. When I was done, he expressed genuine enthusiasm for it, which coming from a professional of his stature was huge to me.

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I come to praise maglev - not the other thing

(This essay originally ran in AltDaily)

As government operatives, media types and ideologues continue to machinate over whether and how to extend light rail to Virginia Beach, I feel compelled to stand up and speak out in defense of emerging technology.
 
ODU maglevA proposal has been made by American Maglev Technologies (AMT) - the same company behind ODU's maglev experiment several years ago - to build a maglev train line as the proposed light rail system in Virginia Beach, at no cost to taxpayers.
 

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