Letters | July 23, 2010 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Spectrum - July 23, 2010


Computerized classrooms


My tenure at Gunn High School is more distant each day, but forever are memories of playing Tetris on my classmates' graphing calculators. But the time I logged playing Tetris was minimal, and my teachers ensured that I used my graphing calculator for its intended purpose of, well, graphing.

Now a college senior, I, unlike many of my peers, dare not bring my laptop to class with me in order to avoid distractions far more distracting than Tetris. College professors have begun to incorporate computers into their curricula, but I have yet to experience a class in which an in-class computer was as integral a part of my learning as my graphing calculator has been for integrating.

The distraction brought from an in-class laptop probably still outweighs its educational benefits, but it is difficult to refute that computers will be significant aids for future educators.

While extending Wi-Fi in Palo Alto schools will probably not dramatically increase Palo Altans' standardized test scores (or their learning) immediately, Palo Alto Unified does have an opportunity to be a leader in the inevitable movement toward computers in the classroom and, in the process, prepare its students for their computerized college experiences.

Stephan Campbell

Waverley Street

Palo Alto

Masonic information


I am a member of the Masonic Lodge of Palo Alto and was very pleased to see the pictures of our main lodge room in the Palo Alto Weekly edition of July 16. The Rebekahs in the pictures are typical of the members of fraternities, sororities and others who use the Masonic facilities.

The Masonic Lodge of Palo Alto celebrated its centennial in 2002. A great many prominent men from Palo Alto and Stanford University, who might be considered the builders of these communities, were members of the lodge.

The lodge does not solicit members but welcomes applicants of all religions, ethnicities or races, to first contact the lodge or a Mason.

The Masonic Fraternity is a worldwide organization with many concordant bodies and with lodges in most countries. The Masons' wide range of philanthropies total more than $1 million a day.

The Masonic Fraternity has ancient roots deriving from the craft guilds of operational masons who built the great cathedrals of Europe in the Middle Ages. These men were known as Freemasons since they were allowed free passage between countries where their skills were needed.

The Masonic Guilds continued as fraternities after cathedral building ended wherein they extended their ideas of freedom and related concepts, sub rosa. As these ideas became more acceptable, the Masons emerged in England in 1717 and in the American colonies shortly thereafter. Many of the founders of our country as well as signers of the Declaration of Independence were Masons. Over the centuries many American political leaders were Masons, in particular, 14 of our presidents.

Thank you for the very informative article.

Bernard F. Bayuk

Paloma Road

Portola Valley

Cargill development


Like many people on the Peninsula, I was startled to read the latest disclosure from supporters of the controversial Cargill salt pond development in Redwood City, not least because this disclosure involved an unwarranted attack on me.

Political consultant Ed McGovern just announced that DMB spent $30,000 in the recent Democratic primary to inspire the South Bay Labor Council to produce misleading mail pieces against me.

I am proud to have led the early opposition from elected officials to this misguided project, with my October 2009 op-ed in the Palo Alto Weekly, and I regard DMB's attack as a badge of honor.

And I am hardly alone in my opposition to paving over this fragile open space site. My fellow candidate Josh Becker also came out against the Cargill project. Rich Gordon has kept mum on the project citing his current role as a commissioner of the Bay Conservation and Development Commission, which has to issue permits for any projects under its Bay protection jurisdiction. I trust Rich has not been unduly influenced by this expenditure from Cargill's developer, and will soon make his opposition known as well.

Cargill looks to be getting desperate as more and more Bay Area elected officials come out publicly against their big scheme on the salt ponds in Redwood City. In fact, there isn't one Bay Area elected official not on DMB's payroll who has stated their support of Cargill's proposed new city in our bay.

McGovern is threatening to "look for opportunities in November to do the same thing."

I hope the voters learn from this and do not allow corporate manipulation such as this to further distort the integrity of our local elections.

Yoriko Kishimoto

Embarcadero Road

Palo Alto


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