Lawrence’s 2019 Community Bike Ride Set for July 20th

The 2019 Community Bike Ride is set for July 20th.  We’ll again be at Lawrence’s Rotary Arboretum at 27th and Waukarusa.

This year we have 4 rides planned for folks of all ages and experience.

  • 4 Miles – 9:30 am – Sanders Mound
  • 6/8 Miles – 9:00 am-  K-10 Trail
  • 12 Miles – 8:30 am – I-70 Turnaround
  • 22 Miles – 8:00 am –  Lawrence Loop

We are excited to again to be sponsoring free helmets, safety vest, and other exciting goodies (while supplies last).

After a trial run last year, we will again be partnering with Lawrence’s bike share company VeoRide who will offer FREE bikes for use during the event. You just need to register before 7/15 at http://bit.ly/cbr-bike-res

All of this is made possible by volunteers from Lawrence Central Rotary and some fine local sponsors who love supporting getting outdoors and being active. 

You are also welcome to join the ride after-party at S&S Artisan Pub and Coffee House at 2228 Iowa Street between 12 and 2pm.

We will have releases on-site for attendees to sign when checking in, but you can also download one here to fill out and bring if you like.

See you on July 20th!

Discover “Secret London” with a Monopoly board

Doveton shows the London map of Monopoly locations

John Doveton, retired from the Kansas Geological Survey, has developed a reputation for his diverse and quirky expertise.  When he visited Lawrence Central Rotary recently, he has a secret to share.

Doveton explained that people in the English-speaking world outside of the United States play a version of the board game Monopoly that uses place names of locations in London.  The American version uses places found in Atlantic City.

The graphics and color scheme on the English game board are the same as the United States version, but the properties have different names.  For example, the familiar upscale properties called “Boardwalk” and “Park Place” in the American version of the game are called “Mayfair” and “Park Lane” in the London version.  The railroads include “Kings Cross,” not “Reading.”

Doveton suggests that the next time people travel to London, they seek out the landmarks of Monopoly London.  Trekking to find them will lead to explorations in parts of the city that traditional tourists miss.  And the curious can uncover interesting historical tidbits.  For example, the US Liberty Bell was cast by a foundry near Whitechapel Road, a place name found on the game board.

 

Southwest Middle School Excels at Future City Competition

For several years Southwest Middle School has participated in the Future City Competition, an engineering competition for 6th, 7th, and 8th graders. This year’s theme was “resilient power grids in natural disasters.” The students were required to design a city that could sustainably bounce back after a major weather event.

In addition to support from their teacher, the students consulted with a professional engineering consultant.

The project required the students to develop a model using SimCity, a software for designing a city. The students reflected how well the software worked at demonstrating the repercussions of city planning, such as the consequences of zoning and tax changes.

The students were also required to write a 1,000 work essay explaining how transportation, housing and the electric grid in their city works to protect against natural disasters.

The students constructed three-dimensional models of the city mostly out of trash. The students were given a budget of up to $100 per model.

During competition the students delivered a seven-minute presentation. Both teams qualified for nationals; one team placed sixth overall at the national competition.

Artificial Intelligence: What Does it Mean to be Human

Dave Mannering | Lawrence Central RotaryThe news is full of stores about artificial intelligence (AI) including self-driving cars and even facial recognition technology and its ethical application.  AI is also the subject of speculative science fiction and futuristic tracts.  Is the end of humanity at hand?  David Mannering provided a short history of AI and its potential to serve us.  Mannering’s background includes graduate study at KU, forty years of working in IT including service of fifteen years as chief information officer.  He also worked for the State of Kansas Department of Revenue and taught programming and information systems management.

Mannering began with Alan Turing, a British mathematician, who developed a theory of computation while working on government security projects in World War ll.  He developed a binary system of communication that made machine driven computation possible.  Computing science and the idea of AI had to overcome huge obstacles in the early years.  In 1997 an IBM computer named Deep Blue defeated the reigning world chess champion.  Mannering stated this was not really AI at work but sophisticated programming.  True AI involves learning and not just the retrieval of information.  Still, Deep Blue got the world’s attention. 

Ray Kurzweil captured the moment with his nonfiction work “The Singularity is Near” and we have been talking about what it means to be human ever since.  Is Mannering worried about where AI is headed?  He replied he would not lose sleep over AI as we have the power to determine its use.  Let us hope for responsible utilization of this amazing technology.

Electoral College Complexities

Paul Schumaker explains the history and complexities of the Electoral College

As the U.S. Constitution was being drafted in 1787, a significant concern was how to choose a successor to George Washington as president, KU Political Science Professor Emeritus Paul Schumaker explains. The goal was to establish a state-centric process to do so that would enhance the federal nature of government.

The solution was to have state legislatures select a College of “notable and high-minded” Electors to decide who would be president based on a simple majority vote among themselves. The House of Representatives would choose among the top five vote-getters should there not be a clear winner.

There are 538 electors in the College now, one for each Senator and each Congressional Representative in a state. It will take an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to change the system.

When the public votes for the office of president in the national election every four years, they are really electing the slate of Electoral College representatives. In most states, the winner of the popular vote in a state gets all the electoral votes from that state. Only Maine and Nebraska have decided to distribute the votes proportionally.

As a result of the currrent Electoral College system, states and state parties play a huge role in the nomination and election processes. State rules determine who gets on the ballot and define voter ID and registration rules. Only a small number of states are “in play” during national elections, those where it is unsure whether Republican or Democrat votes will prevail. As a result, there is often lower voter turnout in “safe states.” A mismatch of the popular vote and the electoral votes is more likely under the system.

Schumaker wrote a book on this topic in 2002, Choosing a President: the Electoral College and Beyond. In it, he and others evaluate the Electoral College system and six legitimate alternatives to it. The book discusses how the Electoral College was created, evolved, and currently works and describes various reforms and possible replacements.

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