Thursday, December 20, 2007

Imagine One Laptop Per Child - Sacramento Challenge

Imagine One Laptop Per Child - Sacramento Challenge

Let’s imagine that we could make the Internet accessible to millions of children around the world. Let’s imagine how that would change the world as we know it. Frankly, I don’t think I can imagine the entire impact that it would have, it’s just too vast, but it would certainly be one of those giant steps that the world takes every 50 years or so. An amazing non-profit organization, One Laptop per Child (OLPC) created by faculty members from the MIT Media Lab, and led by Nicholas Negroponte announced, in January of this year, a goal to design, manufacture, and distribute laptops that are sufficiently inexpensive to provide every child in the world access to knowledge and modern forms of education. The laptops would be sold to governments and issued to children by schools on a basis of one laptop per child. These machines would be rugged, Linux-based, and so energy efficient that hand-cranking alone could generate sufficient power for operation. Mesh networking would give many machines Internet access from one connection. The pricing goal would start near $100 and then steadily decrease. What a goal!

Who would have imagined that less than a year later the machines are on their way to production? Yesterday, Taiwan’s Quanta Computer announced it will bring the machine to market by the end of 2006. Soon thereafter, OLPC says, 5 million to 15 million units will be launched via pilot programs in China, India, Brazil, Argentina, Egypt, Nigeria, and Thailand. Even in this country, the idea is getting rave reviews. Massachusetts Republican Governor Romney has said he would love to get this laptop into the hands of all his state’s students and he has specific plans to buy for the half-million high school and middle school students as soon as they become available.

Hardware used for the laptop will include an eight-inch color LCD screen, wireless connectivity, and it can be powered by either an adapter or through a wind-up mechanism. One of the great hurdles that had to be overcome to meet the $100 price point was how to make a cheaper screen. Negroponte hired Mary Lou Jepsen away from her job as chief technology officer in Intel’s display division to become CTO at OLPC. Jepsen has invented a display that she thinks can be built for $35 or less (compared with the typical $100 or more). There has also been talk of giving the device the capability to access the Internet through cellular networks. On the software side, the laptop will have word processing, a Web browser, e-mail client, and programming software.

So, does the name Negroponte sound familiar? John Negroponte, the new US Intelligence Czar? Nicholas is his brother. He is the founder and director of MIT’s unique Media Lab. He authored a book Being Digital in 1995, which Publishers Weekly described as an upbeat primer on the information revolution. In addition, he was an investor in and correspondent for Wired. But, to me, the most interesting fact about him is that he has a passion to get a laptop into the hands of all children in the developing world since the 1980’s. He even set up a real-life experiment. He and his wife, Elaine, set up a school in a rural Cambodian village and donated 50 laptops. His partner, Seymour Paper, has been an integral player in getting laptops to every 7th and 8th grader in Maine. The results in Maine have been very positive. Teachers are now able to tailor lessons to individual student’s needs. One teacher reports that 20% of his eighth-graders are completing the honors algebra ninth-grade curriculum. How does Negroponte describe his motivation? “What actually happened was I got sufficiently irritated by people telling me it wasn't possible," he says. "I'm a firm believer that half of the solution comes from sheer resolve."

Corporate sponsors include Google, AMD, RedHat, Brightstar, News Corporation and Nortel. The Microsofts, Dells, Apples of the world are watching. Is Bill Gates getting heartburn imagining 200 million children in China getting cozy with Linux? Intel made a statement that clearly shows where it stands through its Chairman, Craig Barrett. “Mr. Negroponte has called it a $100 laptop -- I think a more realistic title should be 'the $100 gadget'," Barrett told a press conference in Sri Lanka. "The problem is that gadgets have not been successful."

So, at the risk of irritating our colleagues at Intel, I am putting out a challenge to the business, government and academia executives in Sacramento. What’s it going to take to make Sacramento the city (or the county?) that equips all (most, some) of its kids with $100 laptops by the end of 2007?

Let’s make a profound difference in the lives of these kids. And let’s imagine what happens when they take these laptops home and get their parents involved in the world that the Internet can open up to them.

As John Lennon said in his song Imagine, that withstands the test of time by the sheer clarity of its message:

You may say I’m a dreamer,
but I’m not the only one,
I hope some day you'll join us,
And the world will live as one.

©Bag Productions, Inc
Gillian ParrilloThe Sacramento Executive

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Milton's OLPC arrived in time to take to Brasil

Its really great... I can't wait for mine to arrive! Cuter'n a bug!


“Unless Moses comes down with two stone tablets from Brokeback Mountain to tell us something different, we need to keep that understanding of marriage.”– Mike Huckabee

“It’s the acts, it’s the various acts that people perform that are sinful”– Rudolph Giuliani on homosexuality

“I don't want civil unions or gay marriage.” – Mitt Romney

In case you were wondering why I support Obama...



The United Nations General Assembly yesterday adopted a resolution expressing "deep concern" about "ongoing systematic violations of human rights" in Iran.Adopted by a final vote of 73 to 53, with 55 abstentions, the resolution took note of repression and persecution aimed by the Iranian government at groups ranging from women and women's rights defenders to the news media and labor groups, as well as various ethnic and religious minorities, including Baha'is."We are happy that the General Assembly, the most globally representative body of United Nations, has seen fit once again this year to call attention to the dire situation in Iran, where Baha'is and other groups continue to face oppression and persecution by the government," said Bani Dugal, the principal representative of the Baha'i International Community to the United Nations."Our hope now is that the Iranian government will heed the opinion of the international community and stop the systematic violation of human rights directed against its own people," said Ms. Dugal.The resolution, put forward by Canada and co-sponsored by 41 other countries, describes the deteriorating human rights situation in Iran, expressing "serious concern" about "confirmed instances" of "torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, including flogging and amputations"; public executions, including stoning, and "arrests, violent repression, and sentencing of women exercising their right to peaceful assembly, a campaign of intimidation against women's human rights defenders, and continuing discrimination against women and girls."The resolution, the 20th on Iran since 1985, also notes "increasing discrimination and other human rights violations against persons belonging to religious, ethnic, linguistic or other minorities" including Arabs, Azeris, Baluchis, Kurds, Christians, Jews, Sufis and Sunni Muslims and Baha'is.Regarding Baha'is, the resolution notes particularly that there have been "attacks on Baha'is and their faith in State-sponsored media, increasing evidence of efforts by the State to identify and monitor Baha'is and prevention of (Baha'is) from attending university and from sustaining themselves economically; an increase in cases of arbitrary arrest and detention."

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The good lads at KUMES - Nepal

Last summer the good lads at KUMES - Kathmandu, Univeristy, Nepal posted an interview,

thanks guys!

Here is what they posted on Wednesday, September 26, 2007


An Interview with Mr. Daniel

Date: 18th June 07.(begun late on the 19th of June, 2007)

Hello! Sir,Namaste!
It is our pride, pleasure and a great opportunity to be with you at this moment.

I am humbled to be here, and deeply honored to be asked to work with you all.

Ethnomathematics was a strange subject for us when it was introduced in K.U. It was a dream for all of us to meet the persons like you who worked and made significant contribution in this area. The dream has turned into reality.

No, the dream is mine! To travel to Nepal has been a dream of mine for a very long time, I am so very honored to be here and to work with you all.

We hope the moment we spend with you here in Nepal will be productive in many aspects for us, Nepali people, the society and of course for the world. We believe that we are trying to learn how to make a good start in the field of ethnomathematics.

I am sure you are!

We are very young in this area. We are not sure whether our questionnaires will meet your expectations or not, but we hope that you will understand our limitations in different angles. How do you like to introduce yourself? How do you enumerate the influence of your family, culture, place of birth, politics of the work place and personal nature in the journey of your mathematics and ethnomathematics?

I like to be called Daniel, though I think in this culture that form of informality is not acceptable. Though in Brasil, like California most everyone refers to each other by their first name. Dr. Orey is good, I am not worried about titles, just call me friend! I was born in San José, California a very long time ago (in 1955). My parents were a typical young middle class protestant couple of the time. I have one sister (two years younger). I was very fortunate - I have been given every opportunity imaginable, and my parents spent a great deal of energy making sure that I didn't see too many things that were uncomfortable or unpleasant. I went to college and became a teacher, and after three years I was married and convinced my wife that we needed to live overseas for awhile. So it was that we got jobs in Guatemala. I didn't know anything about Guatemala then, and learned about injustice, and suffering, and extreme poverty, classism, and racism, and for the first time I saw the consequences of my country's foreign polices for those less fortunate... but despite all these things I saw the sweetness of the Mayan people. They are so strong, despite 500 years of colonial domination, and the current horrors they were experiencing... they taught me so very much.

I am not registered for any political party (I find them divisive and contrary to unity, and not interested in what the people need) but I always vote, and I would say that I am a very liberal progressive, and believe in the full expression and freedom of individuals no matter what their religion, sexual orientation, gender, political party, race, national origin, or language. My trip here to Nepal really confirms something basic in my religious foundation - that all people everywhere on this planet have much more in common than they have different. Though the food, language, customs are different, underneath all of this - we are all essentially the same - we love, we laugh, we like good food, good drink, good friends, we all have dreams and wish for societies based on peace and justice. It gives me such hope for this world that is so full of problems!

What is the purpose of visit to Nepal? How many countries have you been visited till now regarding the ethnomath project?

My purpose to come to Nepal is to work with KU in relation to ethnomath and mathematics education. Countries in relation to my work in ethnomath? Hmmm... Brasil (of course!), Guatemala, México, Costa Rica, Italy, and now Nepal.

How can the study of ethnomath help in the development of economically poor countries like Nepal? How do you suggest the concerned authorities?

It can only be helpful in assisting any culture in coming to value what it has. Mathematically, my hope for the ethnomath research group here is that you have a very short window to document as much as you can about the old customs and ways of counting, ordering, ciphering, etc. Nepal is about to change and when the younger generation begins to play computer games, etc... they will no longer want to know about or will forget the old and unique Nepali ways of thinking, learning and doing mathematics (this is consistent to "development" in Brasil and the United States).

Universalists claim that the ethnomath project will destroy the peace and harmony between the cultures in the world, how do you justify?

No, that seems very strange to me, I haven\'the faintest idea what a universalist is, or why they might think this. As Ubiratan D'Ambrosio has said: "An individual, hopes in this phase of the evolution of our species, that the respect for diverse peoples will not be replaced by our arrogance, envy and great power and that in solidarity, we will be able to contribute to the preservation of a common inheritance."

How do you advise the university graduates who want to join in the agenda of ethnomathematics? What about the future?

I hope that each of you comes to understand what D'Ambrosio is sharing with us all. I hope that each one of you can document - using mathematical modeling - and save as much of the traditional ways of doing mathematics before it disappears forever. Nepal is about to make incredible changes - it will need to retain its "Nepaliness" while gaining its own, new voice and entering and fully participating in the world economy and politics. The world does not need another copy of the Untied States, China or India... what we need is a strong, vibrant and confident Nepal. One that has all the information it needs to solve its own problems. It is my hope that Nepal will look at countries that have come out of the long dark nightmare of war and violence like you are, and look at them as roll models and seek their input and guidance. I speak chiefly of Chile and Brasil - I hope that some students from Nepal might go and study in Brasil and that Brazilians might come to KU to study someday.

We are grateful to you for your valuable time and your heartfelt attempts to enrich Nepali ethnomath.

No, I am most grateful to you all for your interest, love and respect for ethnomathematics. I cannot enrich Nepali ethnomath - it is already very rich... you just need to find it!


Thank you Kumes (A club of M.ed students at K.U. with a slogan "mathematics for all")

Interviewed by:Amrit Bahadur Thapa, L.B Gurung, Krishna Poudel


Daniel Clark Orey, PhD
Senior Fulbright Specialist - Nepal
CNPq Fellow - Brasil
Professor, California State University, Sacramento

Did You Know 2.0

see for the latest:

Did You Know III-Updated June 2007

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