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Comment: Re:$100 million (Score 1) 95

by Entrope (#49263651) Attached to: Education Company Monitors Social Media For Test References

The same universe as what? My argument doesn't rest on some idea of the way things used to be. What are you smoking that makes you think name-dropping NCLB or RTTT is a convincing argument? What does the current affordability of college have to do with whether standardized testing at the K-12 level helps charter schools? (For the record, I think an awful lot, and maybe a majority, of college degrees are currently overpriced, and students are suckers for taking out big loans to pay for them.)

Charters are judged -- even more harshly -- based on results of these standardized tests. The fact that there's a mechanism to set up charter schools when the public schools suck has nothing to do with the fact that governments have long tried to, and still do, push private schools into the margin. Government's efforts to do so make a mockery of the AC's claim that this social-media snooping debacle was caused by "the philosophy that the free market will be the best solution in every walk of life".

Comment: Re:$100 million (Score 1) 95

by Entrope (#49262535) Attached to: Education Company Monitors Social Media For Test References

Why in the world do you think that standardized testing is good for, or inherent to, charter schools? Standardized testing long predates charter schools. Standardized testing -- and standardized curricula, which is what Common Core is really pushing -- are in many ways an antithesis to charter schools. Charter schools are successful to the extent that they can distinguish themselves from what their (public or private) competitors offer. If all schools have the same material and the same tests, and those mandated bits cover as much of the school year as Common Core says they must, then charter schools will have precious little to distinguish themselves with. Besides, charter schools are at best a hybrid between private and public education. They're good in that they generally let parents choose a school for their children, but bad in that they are much more accountable to the existing public-school bureaucracy rather than to parents.

The primary way that government has (very intentionally) pushed private schools to the sideline is by using fairly uniform taxes, usually in the form of property taxes, to pay for the public schools. Anyone who wants to send a child to a private school has, until the very recent phenomenon of school-choice vouchers, had to pay twice: Once for public schools, and once for the private school they choose for the child.

Comment: Re:$100 million (Score 3, Insightful) 95

by Entrope (#49261283) Attached to: Education Company Monitors Social Media For Test References

There are special needs kids who can't just click through a test on a computer screen -- blind children are an obvious example, and anyone with dyslexia needs special accommodations for the test to accurately measure skills beyond reading comprehension. Anything more complicated than a multiple-choice question -- for example, being able to get partial credit for showing work in a math or science problem, or any essay question -- tends to be very hard to grade by computer. Setting up computer-focused course materials takes extra work, and if that doesn't amortize over enough classes, it is wasted effort. How often does the course material need to be reworked, do to changes in the available hardware and software platforms? Does the computerized curriculum mean that schools in the inner city, rich suburbs, and rural areas all need to have their students follow the same curriculum, or is there any room to tailor to local needs and abilities?

There certainly is a lot of budget that is wasted or abused in public schools, and bureaucracy and teacher's unions contribute much to that, but good solutions are not always as simple as they seem from the outside. If they were, we'd see more success stories of how a plucky reformer (with backing from the right school board members or whomever else) was able to turn a failing school around and deliver improved results for notably less money.

Comment: Re:$100 million (Score 3) 95

by Entrope (#49261215) Attached to: Education Company Monitors Social Media For Test References

What part of one level of government coercing another level of government to adopt new educational standards, and then both of them together working to select a contractor to do these extra things (that even the government realizes it's too incompetent to run on its own), all while pushing private schools to the sideline, reminds you of a free market?

Comment: Re:So which way do you propose? (Score 4, Insightful) 247

by Entrope (#49195501) Attached to: How Activists Tried To Destroy GPS With Axes

That's a lousy analogy. A better analogy in this case would be that someone offended by apartheid took an axe to the bus, and after being arrested, ranted about the white people's plot to breed black people into Morlocks. Does that help clarify why Lumsdaine is such a counter-productive "activist"? His attempt was doomed to fail -- it would not stop either the military-industrial complex, or even the particular program he went after, but would put off practically everyone who disagreed with him and some of those who did agree with him.

Comment: Re:Wait.. (Score 2) 301

Unless a state passes a right-to-work law (California has not), "closed shops" are allowed under Federal law and typically required by union contracts. A "closed shop" agreement means that employees must be union members at the time of hire, or must join the union within a certain period. To conform with the First Amendment, employees who do not wish to pay for the union's "extra" activities (beyond collective negotiation for their bargaining unit that the employee belongs to) can opt out of full union membership and pay a reduced rate for the union's representation. The reduction is almost never a big reduction, which might surprise people who know how much unions spend on political activity. Also, people who do opt out can no longer vote on what the union should negotiate for, and unions like to make them social outcasts, so there are strong incentives to not opt out.

Comment: Re:Sick (Score 0) 301

The money to pay for benefits will come out of the employee's paycheck one way or another. If the employer has to pay employees when they're not working, it means the employee's per-working-hour salary will be lower than it would be otherwise.

Drivers who would get "50% pay when ill" are probably not that likely to stay home, and most companies that have policies like that require a doctor's note when someone takes advantage of the policy (to deter people from abusing it). Making your employer part of your relationship with your doctor should be an option for the employee, not a requirement.

Comment: Re: Not this shit again (Score 1) 681

by Entrope (#49110903) Attached to: Bill Nye Disses "Regular" Software Writers' Science Knowledge

You do know that IEEE 754 defines, and two IBM mainframe architectures implement, decimal floating point formats and arithmetic, right? Some languages -- mostly to support financial applications -- provide data types that are defined in decimal floating-point terms.

Using these is uncommon, there are various tradeoffs for decimal floating point, and the values are encoded using bits, but the high-level semantics and in some cases hardware instructions are explicitly base 10.

Comment: Re:Good (Score 0, Troll) 297

by Entrope (#49005449) Attached to: Canadian Climate Scientist Wins Defamation Suit Against National Post

We must prosecute Galileo -- the academic consensus is clearly against his nutty heliocentric ideas.

We must exterminate defective races -- the science is clearly in favor of Aryan supremacy.

We must take to the courts and prosecute anyone who dares to insult our religion^Wscience!

Comment: Re:Not a fan (Score 1) 304

by Entrope (#48892647) Attached to: Government Recommends Cars With Smarter Brakes

Is the tradeoff in favor of this kind of system yet? I have it one my car, and the part that I have found useful is the flashing warning -- not the braking. Among other flaws, it tends to have false alarms on certain stretches of road (I'm not sure whether it is picking up signs or fences or something else, but it is almost a given at one spot on my commute home from work), and it gets close to the auto-braking threshold when a car in front of me is turning into a parking lot. (The system in my car has three levels: flashing a warning, pre-tensioning [tugging] seat belts, and automatically braking. A turning car sometimes triggers the pre-tensioning, which is distracting in itself.)

Comment: Re:They do it for us! (Score 4, Informative) 484

by Entrope (#48818485) Attached to: IEEE: New H-1B Bill Will "Help Destroy" US Tech Workforce

According to the best estimates out there, the US pays substantially more for Medicare fraud (even excluding Medicaid fraud, which is something state governments would handle) than for unreimbursed care. But don't let reality interrupt your little fantasy of how the world works.

Comment: Re:IMSI Catchers are Wiretaps, usually illegal (Score 1) 71

by Entrope (#48729659) Attached to: New App Detects Government Stingray Cell Phone Trackers

You are just addressing a different part of the 4A's limits than I am. Some things are not 4A searches. The government theory here is probably that Smith v. Maryland (1979) makes an IMSI catcher not a 4A search. Some things are 4A searches, but do not require a warrant to be reasonable -- if the police say "mind if I search your car?" and you say that's okay with you, they don't need a warrant. Other things are 4A searches, but require a warrant to be reasonable -- non-consensual searches of a home, absent some imminent danger, require a warrant. Other things would be considered searches under the 4th Amendment, but even a warrant cannot make them reasonable; but this category is so small that I don't know of any good examples (a lot of possible examples are more clearly prohibited by the Fifth Amendment's limits on compelled testimony against oneself).

My personal take is that use of an IMSI catcher is probably a 4A seizure that would need a warrant -- it disrupts the normal functioning of many phones in an area, temporarily disconnecting them from the cell phone network -- or alternatively it counts as a search because it scoops up so much data from so many people (similar to the "mosaic theory" that some circuits have recently approved).

Comment: Fourth amendment searches and warrants (Score 1) 71

by Entrope (#48712133) Attached to: New App Detects Government Stingray Cell Phone Trackers

Lots of 4A searches do not require warrants -- searches incident to arrest, custodial searches, searches with consent, and probably more. The warrant requirement only kicks in when a warrantless search would be "unreasonable" (violate a reasonable expectation of privacy, and such expectation is narrower than most non-lawyers would believe).

Simplicity does not precede complexity, but follows it.