Former delegate Aisha Braveboy (left) and Del. Jill P. Carter (D) addressed how communities can effect policy change in Annapolis. (Photo by Roberto Alejandro)Sustained community engagement is key to overcoming the influence of lobbyists in Annapolis, experienced lawmakers those gathered at the ‘From Protest to Policy: Making Advocacy Count,’ forum. The event was a collaboration between Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle, a youth-led Baltimore policy think tank, and Associated Black Charities (ABC), an advocacy organization that seeks to build healthier and more prosperous communities in Maryland, according to its website. The forum consisted of a panel featuring Del. Jill Carter (D) of Baltimore’s 41st district and former Del. Aisha Braveboy (D) of Prince George’s County’s 25th district, and moderated by Diane Bell-McKoy, CEO of ABC.Braveboy and Carter told those present that most legislators are not activist lawmakers, which means support for specific legislation or policies is largely driven by interactions with lobbyists.Carter referred to herself and Braveboy as ‘activist legislators.’“We’ll champion causes because we believe they’re right and that is not the norm [in Annapolis],” said Carter during the forum. “In Annapolis, there are paid lobbyists, and paid advocates that champion bills. They are paid to be there for the 90 days, and they have built relationships with legislators. They are there every day, in offices, building relationships – having dinners, having lunches – and talking about their issues throughout the course of the session, and often times that leaves the regular people, the constituents . . . out in the cold when it comes to passing laws.”Braveboy explained that what legislators do during the session starts much earlier, with grassroots efforts in the community creating awareness of issues to be addressed through legislation. Once that awareness reaches legislators, a bill is drafted and presented to the legislature, where it is assigned to a committee. A public forum is held, and if the bill is approved by the committee it reaches the floor for a vote.“Typically, once a piece of legislation comes out of a standing committee, typically it passes on the floor . . . but you want to make sure that, especially when there’s legislation that may be controversial, that you have enough presence, not just on that committee but in the entire legislature, advocating for your policy position,” said Braveboy. She added that a big mistakes people make in the policymaking process is failing to ensure you have enough floor votes to pass a bill. Being certain of the votes, she said, requires sustained engagement with lawmakers beyond those sitting on the relevant committee.After the panel, eleven advocacy groups presented their legislative agendas for the 2015 legislative session of Maryland’s General Assembly, which opened Jan. 14. A. Adar Ayira, a project manager with ABC, closed out the event. “I want to say to you that policy is moral,” said Ayira, “because policy tells us about whom we care in society, and about whom we don’t . . . if we do not walk into policy, and each of us use the information that we have to help our policymakers expand their lens, then we will continue to get what we have always gotten.”
The “Joking Computer” was developed by scientists at Aberdeen University for the Science Centre, to show children and young people what computers can do and help them explore language and engage with the underlying science. The software was originally written for children with disabilities such as cerebral palsy, to help them develop language skills and have original jokes to tell their family and friends. Dr Judith Masthoff from the Department of Computing Science at Aberdeen University said the software was developed jointly by the universities of Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Dundee. Dr Masthoff said the Joking Computer is intended to be a fun way to show children that computers can have a positive impact on people’s lives. If young people can engage with the computer, the hope is that some may consider computing science as a career or academic pursuit later.Chief Executive of the Glasgow Science Centre, Kirk Ramsay, said the exhibit is a good example of how computing power and sophistication can be used for all kinds of applications. The Joking Computer is perfect for achieving the aim of the Centre, which is to use fun and thought-provoking exhibits to promote science and technology.The Joking Computer project was funded by a £105,000 award from the EPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council) as part of their Partnerships for Public Engagement award scheme. It will be exhibited next year in science workshops and festivals in the UK.The Joking Computer can generate millions of cracker-style jokes, all based on puns. A few examples of its jokes are: * Q: What kind of temperature is a son? * A: A boy-ling point * Q: What do you call a shout with a window? * A: A computer scream * Q: What do you call a washing machine with a september? * A: An autumn-atic washer© 2009 PhysOrg.com Explore further Researchers design humorous ‘bot’ (PhysOrg.com) — The Glasgow Science Centre in Scotland is exhibiting a computer that makes up jokes using its database of simple language rules and a large vocabulary. Citation: Glasgow’s joking computer (2009, December 11) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2009-12-glasgow.html This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.