Saturday, 30 August 2008

Research on maths levels in Venezuela

I am looking for maths books used by 15-year old Venezuelan pupils. Do you have a copy of one being used now in Venezuela? Could you send me a picture of the kind of questions they have to deal with?

I have some information for the US, Germany, the UK and Belgium.

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Venezuela and numbers

I have little time now, but I just wanted to show here my latest graph on criminality in Carabobo, V enezuela. I had placed it in my Spanish blog. The post (in Spanish) is here. The data comes simply from El Notitarde, a local newspaper, which itself reports what the police says.

Here the graph (click to have a better look). It represents the amount of murders in Carabobo state month by month since 2004. Sad thing. In Europe people would take this seriously. In Venezuela it seems the government does not care at all.

Thursday, 21 August 2008

With such an education level, Venezuela is read for...

Here you can take a look at what Venezuelans watched on state television this week (courtesy of Emilia). The channel is Tves, a channel that replaced RCTV station when Chavez decided not to renew RCTV's license. The event described is one of Phelps' competitions.

The journalist says nobody had managed to get as many as 8 medals before...only "Michael Phelps in the Olympics of Munich of 1972 in Hitler's Germany, when Hitler did not want to give him the medals".

He probably thought of Jesse Owens in the Olympics of 1936, a US American who got 4 medals . The TVves journalist "merged him" with Mark Spitz, who got 7 medals in the Olympics of 1972.

I have watched sports commentators from several countries, including Germany and the US saying the most stupid things, but I think this is a little bit over the top. It shows no real knowledge of history of the XX century, no sense of perspective. It also goes in the same wave with Hugo Chávez's statements on Angela Merkel, whom he has related to Nazis. Even if there were Nazis who later went to the CDU after the war Angela Merkel has nothing to do with them, certainly she is less connected to those people than Chávez with people who supported Stalin or the Mufti of Jerusalem.

Hugo Chávez said in one of his Sunday marathon shows mankind was about 20 centuries old. He then asked "Francois", probably one of those European communists "living (off) the new Socialist experience", if it was more. "Yes, more, more". Chávez asked: Like 25 centuries? And the €-socialist assented: "Yes". "Thanks, brother". What else could the European visitor do? Contradict el Comandante? No way, José.

Now, Chávez has said a thousand times to foreign journalists he came from a very poor family and he had to walk without shoes many times. Well, his parents were, like mine, teachers. Even if teachers back then did not earn much, they did earn something. I had shoes and more and my family was living in a more expensive state than Barinas. Chávez's parents were earning the same but in the countryside. Chávez went to a free school, like I did. Chávez had to study, like me, at least Universal History, History of Venezuela, Arts 1 (with History of Arts), Geography 1 (with quite some geology) as well as at least 3 years of biology, where he got quite some about evolution (I did 5 years, but in Venezuela some people do more science and others more humanities). Chávez also started some studies of political science at the Universidad Simón Bolívar, although he stopped one year before he made his bloody coup. It is not like Chávez had no resources, no choice, as if he were "the poor child" who came from nothing. He was rather an average Venezuelan with a very particular attitude to knowledge.

What kind of attitude do Chavistas have to have nowadays? Actually, there were people who supported Chávez at the beginning and were well prepared. One of them was Jorge Olavarría, a historian who, surprising for me, supported Chávez. He was one of Chávez ministers at the very start, in 1998, but he realised in 1999 (too late for me) what kind of error he had done and he gave a famous speech in the Congress. Like him, other gullible idealists have already left the wagon. Now it is all in for the ones who want to profit from oil boom.

Chávez lost the referendum of 2007, but he has said repeatedly he wants to propose again a reform in order to be further reelected. Several bloggers like Quico and Juan and Miguel have being reporting on all the moves by Chavismo to consolidate in power. Most people with a real desire to learn and improve humanly are stepping off the Chavismo track. What kind of people will we have in a couple of years ruling the country? Informing on TV?

Thursday, 14 August 2008

We have reached unity: More voters than candidates!

Venezuela's local elections will take place on 27 November and we have finally come to the point when we know the definite list of candidates.

We were already surprised by the amount of people who wanted to become mayors and governors. We were annoyed by the lack of unity within the opposition and pleased by the same thing happening within Chavismo.

There were 11513 initial postulations for 355 mayors (who are the ones on top of municipalities) and 930 for 23+1 governors (actually we have 23 states plus 1 Capital District). So each municipality had on average 32.43 possible candidates and each state had an average of 38.75 candidates.

Let's visualize this (we round it up or down, the figures used are based on randomly selected open source pictures, any similarity to real life or people is purely coincidental):


Each state has on average this amount of candidates for the post of governor:

The military Hugo Chávez had declared a couple of months ago he expected the amount of electors to be over 3 million more than in 2007 but it seems this became too much even for the so government-friendly National Electoral Council of Venezuela: there are "only" 16699576 voters. There is a big variance.

After the initial cleaning up, only a fraction of the postulates were accepted. Carabobo has now 9 accepted candidates (from 20 initial applications).

This time Venezuelans abroad (about 50000 registered voters, many more could have registered) won't count as they do not vote for regional elections. Their votes and the vote of 10% of all the voters were not even counted for December's referendum, even if the National Electoral Council had to provide the total counting two weeks after the voting day.

How is natural selection going to turn out here? Stay tuned.