Ignite!, Neil Bush's educational company, has received thousands of dollars from school districts through the federal No Child Left Behind program even though it doesn't meet the program's standards, a DC watchdog group reported today.
"NCLB requires any kind of educational products to have been scientifically peer-reviewed, and Ignite! has not," Melanie Sloan, Executive Director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, told me. Today CREW sent a letter to the Dept. of Ed Inspector General asking him to investigate the company. "NCLB is really benefiting cronies rather than kids," Sloan added. "I frankly don't understand why so many Democratic senators and congressmen, like George Miller and Kennedy are being so supportive [of NCLB] in the face of these problems."
Ignite! did not return a call from Mother Jones.
Neil Bush, the family's ne'er do well, is best known for his adventures in the savings and loan industry, which led to a taxpayer-funded bailout of $1.3 billion and a lifetime ban from the banking industry. In 1999, with no educational experience, he founded Ignite! with money from his family and international investors. For years Ignite has been dogged by questions about its effectiveness, and its reliance on donations from foundations to fund its purchase in schools. Last year, the Houston Chroniclereported that a donation from Barbara Bush to a Katrina relief fund was earmarked to Ignite! None of this has really slowed the company down of course. As of late it has been working in Russia and China, where I'd expect business will soon be booming.
Ok, so not proof exactly, but man we are really smart. And I'm not talking about knowing geography or spelling or history. I'm talking about the alphabet. We know it, while conservatives are apparently blinded by ideology. In certain situations their rigid brains cannot distinguish among different letters of the alphabet, a major study has found, and this explains why they can't tolerate ambiguity and conflict as well as liberals.
"Political orientation is related to how the brain processes information," reports the UCLA and NYU study, as detailed in the LA Times:
Participants were college students whose politics ranged from "very liberal" to "very conservative. They were instructed to tap a keyboard when an M appeared on a computer monitor and to refrain from tapping when they saw a W.
M appeared four times more frequently than W, conditioning participants to press a key in knee-jerk fashion whenever they saw a letter.
And conservatives were by far the worst knee-jerkers, routinely mistaking a W for an M, or vice versa when the weightings were changed. This has happened before. Mole hill or WMD? Morass or winnable? Melting ice or wacko science? In all seriousness, Frank J. Sulloway, a researcher at UC Berkeley's Institute of Personality and Social Research, told the Times that the results could explain why Bush demonstrated a single-minded commitment to the Iraq War and why "liberals could be expected to more readily accept new social, scientific or religious ideas."
This study is by no means the first to suggest that one political persuasion or another is more fit for duty in the battle of ideas. A few years ago I wrote about a University of Texas study that found residents of Houston suffer from a quasi-clinical condition known as "war fever." But this newest study at least takes the political debate back to the ABCs. Now if only conservatives could go back to kindergarten. . .
Energyville is like Sim City where the laws are written by Chevron. You must power your city with a mix of energy sources, and, of course, you can't win without oil. The game is part of Chevron's "Will you join us?" campaign, a dubious effort to spark dialogue about energy and the environment. I can't imagine who Chevron sees as its target audience—kids will find the game all too 1997; any adult who buys the pitch might also be interested in a REQUEST FOR URGENT BUSINESS ASSISTANCE from Nigeria. Still, the game is getting lots of press.
Driven by novelty and interactivity--never underestimate the interest of bored office workers--advergames are becoming hot marketing tools in the political realm. The outfit Persuasive Games will whip one up for $40,000, complete with Sim City street grids or flash-animated conveyor belts. My favorite is Airport Security, a game in which you're a TSA baggage screener. (Courtesy announcement: "Please be advised: Security personnel are authorized to use groping.") For other examples, see page 86 of the Sept/Oct issue of Mother Jones.
"Advergames" are an increasingly popular method of bringing commercial messages to the nation's 117 million or so video gamers. Interest groups are also getting into the action, hooking up with design shops such as Persuasive Games, which, for a mere $40,000, will design a custom game to get out your political message.
Game / Creator
How to Play
Oversee a busy airport security checkpoint, relieving passengers of contraband such as water bottles, toasters, and pants
If the ACLU reissued the '80s arcade game Tapper
Courtesy announcement: "Please be advised: Security personnel are authorized to use groping."
Take Back Illinois
Lower medical costs, boost civic engagement, and improve schools and the economy
SimCity meets Milton Friedman
Rigged so that you can only win if you freeze taxes or cap malpractice damages
Darfur is Dying
University of Southern California students, winners of the Darfur Digital Activist Contest
Play a refugee trying to find water while hiding from Jeeps filled with rampaging Janjaweed militiamen
Sid Meier's End of Civilization
So you're sitting on your butt playing a video game about genocide
The Insurgent, a white supremacist website
Blow away Mexican drug smugglers and "breeders" with children in tow as they cross into the United States
Duck Hunt for racists
Score 88 points and win. The number is a neo-Nazi code for "Heil Hitler" (H is the 8th letter of the alphabet).
Activist programmer Jason Oda
Guide Hulk Hogan and Mr. T as they battle corporate pigs and mutant Bush Cabinet members in a surreal fight to save the world
Old-school Nintendo, as imagined by the South Park guys
Bridging a gaping chasm with a super-nerdy bar chart of the federal deficit. Don't fall into that $500 billion hole!