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Comment: While I'd like to agree with you... (Score 3, Interesting) 1082 1082

While it had its place in the 18th and 19th century, the Electoral college has long outlived its usefulness. The entire concept of winner-take-all in most states means that only a few key states actually decide our election every time it comes around....until the rules change, that's how the system works whether you like it or not.

I'd like to agree with you, but it depends on the proposed method of election. Given the population distribution and unique division of powers between state and national governments within our nation, I'm not a fan of a direct popular vote for the presidency. I just don't believe it best encapsulates the spirit of our nation. While I would generally support a change over to the Congressional District Method, I am greatly concerned about gerrymandering and its affect on such a proposed alternative solution.

In fact, check out the statistics at the Daily Kos, then do the math. If every state followed the Congressional District Method, Romney would have won the 2012 election...by one electoral vote! Interestingly, Obama would have still won the 2008 election. I wonder what happened between 2008 and 2012 that would have made such a difference...

Comment: Correct (Score 2) 456 456

You are correct. HVAC is ridiculously expensive. Unlike the computer marketplace, there are a very limited supply of HVAC solutions, and many (not all) of the vendors like to keep their circuit and programming technology proprietary.

We just bid out the controller circuits for our school's HVAC system this year in our school district. We have two buildings joined by a hallway on a common campus; 38 blowers and over a hundred dampers control air flow into each room in the building, and each needs a control circuit. Estimated cost was $150,000. Mind you, this cost is -strictly- for control circuits and software to manage them. (Our elementary building had HVAC equipment that was only 10 years old, and 23 years old in the high school. The equipment works fine, but when the circuits were upgraded with the construction of the elementary school in 2005, the contractor used an HVAC control solution that was already outdated. We could only find one vendor in the whole state that was able to service the system.)

For 19 buildings, $2 million is certainly reasonable.

Comment: But this is a new low... (Score 5, Informative) 226 226

I think it's common knowledge by now that industry can buy legislation. The new low is that the actual text of the bill is being kept under lock and key.

I simply cannot see how it is constitutional to permit this to happen. While I understand that rules are being leveraged to limit its exposure (including the fast-track vote process), the spirit of the Constitution has always advocated for transparency and public ownership of government operations.

I suppose what upsets me the most is that I cannot determine which I am more upset with: what's being done with the TPP or the fact that we don't have enough congressmen speaking out against it. As a representative of the people, any legislative process that seeks to erode the spirit of the Constitution is a threat to their constituents and should not be passed. I don't care if the text of the bill would buy every American a new house; the fact that it's being kept secret should be plenty of reason alone to vote it down.

Comment: Speaking as a former yearbook adviser (Score 5, Insightful) 379 379

This guy would be -any- yearbook adviser's dream to have. Look at his photos...they're incredible. He gets in close to his subject, captures the action vividly, and makes very good use of lighting. And for a sophomore? Simply amazing.

This district is handling the situation all wrong. Regardless of whether or not they can or cannot make a claim to the ownership of the photos, they should be lifting this young man up for the talent he has and putting him on a pedestal. Enter him into national photography competitions. Get national recognition for his work, and put the trophies in your trophy case. And make him proud of his talent. He deserves it.

Suing him? Simply ridiculous.

Comment: Dear Microsoft (Score 2) 387 387

I've been a mathematics teacher for nine years. And with the utmost sincerity, let me say this: Shut the fuck up.

Take your baseless opinions regarding educational matters and keep them to yourself. Microsoft has had as much success running schools as they had selling MP3 players. Note taking has been proven time-and-time again to be a very effective and powerful mnemonic device for learning. Studies have also shown that note taking with a pen/pencil and paper is more effective than note taking with a laptop. Furthermore, I can ask my students to have a notebook and pencil the first day of class, and for those who forgot or cannot afford it, I have plenty of spares to give them. I cannot expect the same out of a laptop or other digital device. Until you have research clearly demonstrating that any digital device is superior for learning development and comprehension, stay out of my classroom.

Comment: Obviously (Score 3, Informative) 66 66

Of course it will deter them! Obviously, when you admit that you did wrong and accept responsibility for your misdeeds, the guilt and shame must be overwhelmingly embarrassing! Let's see how hard the hammer of the FCC came down this time...

This Consent Decree resolves allegations that Verizon charged consumers for third-party products...The Bureau...contends that Verizon violated the law...To resolve the Bureau’s investigation...Verizon will provide a total of $90,000,000 in payments and funds for consumer redress...the public interest would be served by adopting the Consent Decree and terminating the referenced investigation.

Hmm...I'm confused...[CTRL]-[F]..."Guilty"...No Results Found? ...

Serving the public interest my ass. Ninety million bucks says Tom Wheeler goes to work for one of these companies the moment he leaves office.

Comment: It's not recycled sewage (Score 2) 278 278

Stop calling it recycled sewage. It's recycled water. And everyone drinks it.

As this page eloquently explains (or you can go to the Wikipedia page to get a lot more details), the wastewater that flows out of your house goes to a water treatment plant where it goes through four stages:

1) Pre-Treatment - large objects (tampons, leaves, wet wipes, etc.) are removed
2) Primary Treatment - fat & grease is removed; organic solids are removed
3) Secondary Treatment - remaining organic matter is broken down and removed; soaps & detergents and other contaminants are removed
4) Tertiary Treatment - nitrogen & phosphorous compounds are removed & oxygen levels are balanced; further processing & cleaning (depending on state laws)

What remains is dumped back into a river, which, surprise, gets pumped out to supply water to the next urban community downstream!

Again, it's recycled water. Whether it's pumped out of the river for tap, or whether it's pumped, filtered, bottled, and sold at your supermarket, it's recycled water.

Comment: I'm confused... (Score 1) 227 227

"We believe that every child should have access to an exceptional, personalized education that enables them to be happy and successful in an ever-changing world," reads AltSchool's mission statement.

Then why have you set yourself up as a private school? If you want to reach every child, why not set yourself up as a public charter school and allow every student equal opportunity to apply? Currently, only children whose parents have $28,750 to spare have access to this "exceptional" education. That's not every child.

Eventually, the plan is for the billionaire-bankrolled education magic to trickle down. AltSchool's pitch to investors, according to NPR, is that one day, charter schools or even regular public schools could outsource many basic functions to its software platform.

Good luck with that. At $28,750, you cost way more money than what every state in the nation pays to educate a child. And all those lucky kids still get a teacher in the room! You better have a really, -really- good return on investment for that kind of money!

Comment: Paying for channels we don't watch (Score 4, Informative) 329 329

You pay for channels you don't want so you can watch the few channels you do want.

The communications director at a local cable service provider once told me the problem with ESPN: it's the most expensive channel in their entire cable lineup. They would love to separate it out and treat it a-la-carte like HBO, but their agreements don't allow for it. Either everyone gets it, or no one does. And he said everyone gets it, because whenever the feed goes out for that channel, their switchboards light up like a Christmas tree. (He also mentioned that the other channel that customers most hate to lose is Lifetime, though that's not nearly as expensive.)

It's extortion, plain and simple. Though ESPN is only partly to blame...the NFL, NBA, and NCAA are also guilty for making game broadcasting rights so pricy.

Comment: I got this far into the article... (Score 2) 352 352

I describe what I think the public-school classroom will look like in 20 years, with a large, fantastic computer screen at the front, streaming one of the nation’s most engaging, informative lessons available on a particular topic. ...And I stopped. This guy doesn't get it.

You could have the most engaging, informative lesson on the face of the planet, and kids may still not listen to it. Maybe they didn't get much sleep last night. Perhaps they ate at McDonalds for breakfast and have a sugar rush. Sometimes they feel depressed, because they just broke up with their significant other. Maybe the topic is about mathematics, a subject that's just difficult to understand. There's a possibility the student is dyslexic. And this is not even the tip of the iceberg.

Generally, humans need inspiration, and they are best inspired by other humans, education no exception. There is a small subset of students who possess enough initiative and tenacity that, even at a young age, they find success by their own merits. But the majority of students face challenges that interfere with their motivation to learn. They need to be coached through these challenges, actions requiring insight into the human psyche, something computers have yet to achieve.

To draw a parallel, do we yet see any high school sports teams being coached by a computer? Shouldn't a computer be better equipped to analyze plays, to determine strengths and weaknesses of players, and to determine strategies that have the greatest probability of success? What does the coach have that the computer doesn't?

Comment: That's correct. (Score 3, Informative) 325 325

So... They didn't test the iPad / content combo to establish usability / feasibility / usefulness prior to dropping all this cash?

Correct. As it says in the LA Times article, "The district selected Pearson based only on samples of curriculum — nothing more was available."

"Oh my! An `inflammatory attitude' in alt.flame? Never heard of such a thing..." -- Allen Gwinn, allen@sulaco.Sigma.COM

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