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Comment: Re:You can replace Windows... But not the battery. (Score 1) 92

One can buy a far better desktop machine and a UPS for that money. And it would be user-serviceable and upgradeable.

A bit harder to transport to a client's office, though.

These machines are obviously aimed at a particular niche that full desktop workstations can't cater for.

Comment: Re:They should rebrand it (Score 1) 66

by tompaulco (#49765609) Attached to: Microsoft Reportedly May Acquire BlackBerry

I like "Crashberry"

Maybe Microsoft could make a Blackberry crash. I personally had believed that phones crashing was just a joke because my Blackberry literally never crashed or needed rebooting. Then I got an Android and found out that, yes, phones really do crash. Apparently iphones do too, from what I hear from iphone owners, however, iphones crash because it is Job's will.


Google and Gates-Backed Khan Academy Introduces "Grit"-Based Classroom Funding 82

Posted by samzenpus
from the effort-counts dept.
theodp writes: Their intentions are no doubt good, but some will be troubled by Google and Khan Academy's recently-concluded LearnStorm initiative, which pitted kids-against-kids, schools-against-schools, and cities-against-cities in a 3-month learning challenge for prizes based not only on students' mastery of math skills on Khan Academy, but also their perceived 'hustle' (aka 'grit'). "Points are earned by mastering math skills and also for taking on challenging new concepts and persevering," explained a Khan Academy FAQ. A blog entry further explained, "They've earned points and prizes not only for mastering math skills but also for showing 'hustle,' a metric we created to measure grit, perseverance, and growth. They competed over 200,000 hours of learning and 13.6 million standards-aligned math problems. In addition, thanks to the generosity of,, and Comcast's Internet Essentials, 34 underserved schools unlocked new devices for their classrooms and free home internet service for eligible families, increasing student access to online learning tools like Khan Academy." Apparently funded by a $2 million Google grant, the Google, Khan Academy, and DonorsChoose grit-based classroom funding comes on the heels of the same organizations' gender-based classroom funding initiative. Supported by some of the world's wealthiest individuals and corporations, Khan Academy's Board members include a Google Board member (Diane Green), spouse of a Google Board member (Ann Doerr), and the Managing Partner of Bill Gates' bgC3 (Larry Cohen); former Board members include Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt.

Comment: Re:Yes to Brexit (Score 1) 359

I think the challenge with the current system and shared Euro currency isn't that a nation loses control of its own policies on things like taxation and trade, its that whether those policies actually work is significantly influenced by the equivalent policies set by other nations that share the currency. As we've seen in recent years, if some nations screw up their own economies due to poor management, corruption, or for any other reason, it does have a serious knock-on effect across the whole currency group.

So, although a shared currency doesn't in itself imply shared tax and spending policies, I suspect that more centralised government (and therefore necessarily less autonomy and sovereignty for each member state) will follow in practice. To a degree, it already has, with the nations that struggled worst after the crash effectively being forced into unpopular austerity policies by foreign influences in return for bail-out money or even having their entire governments replaced by technocrats for a while.

Comment: Re:Yes to Brexit (Score 1) 359

The mostly-unspoken underlying question here is whether the people of Europe actually want to bound together in that way. Some people do see a United States of Europe in the future. Generally speaking, the people of the UK don't, or at least don't want to give up our own national identity to become part of such an umbrella organisation, any more than Canada wants to be the 51st state just because some Canadians speak the same language as most people in the US and they share a border and some broadly similar political views.

Comment: Re:Yes to Brexit (Score 1) 359

[Free movement] just needs to be worked out, not abandoned.

In principle, I agree with you.

However, "working it out" when you're starting with the level of disparity between countries like the UK and Germany on the one hand and the "new Europe" nations on the other is a generational problem that will take many years to solve. It's not something that can be finished in a matter of months with a quick treaty or two.

In the meantime, if you immediately establish tight integration as something like joining the EU does, you have artificially increased the pressure on both the weaker and the stronger nations. Consider that Greece -- which was already an EU member and part of the Eurozone -- is still in serious economic trouble today, coming up to seven years after the big crash. There are still serious political frictions there over dealings with Europe, and there are still serious political frictions in nations like Germany, where they have been picking up the tab for all that time.

One possible alternative is to provide humanitarian and economic aid to less fortunate nations without such close formal ties. For example, the UK has a government department responsible for international development. It has thousands of staff, and now sends over £10B per year in aid funding, mostly to nations across Africa, Asia and the Middle East. This makes the UK the #2 provider of official development aid (after the US) in absolute terms, and the #5 provider (after Norway, Sweden, Luxembourg, and Denmark) relative to gross national income.

So again, if the UK were no longer part of the EU, this doesn't necessarily mean the UK would no longer support the economic development of the "new Europe" states. A cynic might also point out that unlike the EU, there are also actual accounts showing where the money for UK overseas aid is really going and robust mechanisms for reporting and shutting down fraudulent claimants.

For the near future, this kind of arrangement might be more beneficial to the nations receiving the aid and impose a lower risk on the nations giving it, without the mechanics of shared currencies and the like clouding the issue. So again, looking at the big picture, I don't see much of an argument for the UK becoming more tightly integrated with the EU and in particular joining the Eurozone given the current economic disparity among member states.

Comment: Re:Yes to Brexit (Score 1) 359

This only works as long as everybody is equal.

Precisely. And since, in terms of economic strength, everybody in the expanded EU most certainly isn't equal (please note that this is not intended as any sort of insult, merely a statement of fact) the free movement principle does not work well.

In particular, what has really happened in certain cases, for example with Poland and England, is that most of the movement has been one way. This puts strain on English services, but it's important to recognise that it also means many of the people who would be best placed to help Poland develop its own economy are among the most likely to find working in richer European countries more attractive and/or lucrative, creating a "brain drain" effect back home. In the long term, both nations could end up worse off because of the imbalance.

In principle, freedom of movement is a good idea, for both business and pleasure purposes. But on the business side, it does require reasonably balanced parties so the traffic at least roughly cancels out. This was the case in the early days when there were far fewer nations in the shared European machine, but with the expansion to nearly 30 actual or aspiring member states with much more diverse economic conditions, the same logic no longer holds.

Comment: Re:This isn't a question (Score 0) 513

by tompaulco (#49760265) Attached to: Ireland Votes Yes To Same-Sex Marriage

There are exactly 0 valid reasons why gay couples shouldn't be allowed to get married, that's it, zero reasons, as in absolutely none. Any country or region which bans gay marriage or has to ask if it should be allowed it just a bunch of uncivilized hicks who need to grow up.

Oh, OK, well end of thread then.

Oh wait, what about all of the billions of people in the world who think the exact same thing as you except they use "should" instead of "shouldn't".

Comment: Re:Yes to Brexit (Score 1) 359

You are talking as if none of Britain's booming trade has anything to do with the common market

It has plenty to do with the Common Market.

It has very little to do with the rest of the stuff the EU added on top of that Common Market.

and as if that relationship would continue unchanged if Britain exits the EU.

There is no reason why in the long term that should not be the case. It worked before, something similar works today with the EFTA nations, and it is still in everyone's interests for a separated UK and the nations still in the EU to remain effective trading partners.

If that really happens and the EU bureaucrats allow Britain to exit whilst retaining all of its trade agreements and privileges except influencing internal EU affairs

Where did that "and privileges" come from? What privileges are these, and why do you keep adding extra one-sided straw men to the discussion when no-one else is suggesting them?

what is to stop Greece, Hungary or any other country where EU skeptics have come into power from demanding the same?

If EU skeptics have come to power elsewhere, why does the EU have any right to try to prevent them from leaving? You could hardly blame, for example, the Greek, for having second thoughts. Though of course the general population in Greece seems to be consistently in favour of trying to make the Euro work rather than going back to their old currency anyway, so this is just another straw man.

Anybody interested in keeping the EU in tact is going to be as enthusiastic about giving Britain a 'leave while retaining all membership privileges' deal as the UK government is to give you a 'continue to earn money and use public facilities while paying no taxes' deal.

And the same number of people are actually suggesting each of those deals here: zero. You seem to be making up random straw men for reasons I don't understand, and I don't see how that is furthering any useful debate here.

Comment: Re:Yes to Brexit (Score 1) 359

No, it's not. One of the strategies requires everything to work almost immediately or it almost immediately starts building up to a failure that undermines the economies on both sides. The other strategy can be used over arbitrarily long timescales, with full integration determined by when everyone is ready instead of artificial pressures because of unwanted economic side-effects, and in fact full economic integration not necessarily ever being required at all.

Comment: Re:Ziobucks (Score 2) 100

by tompaulco (#49759239) Attached to: Hacker Warns Starbucks of Security Flaw, Gets Accused of Fraud

Starbucks is a nasty company. Its CEO Howard Schultz is a fanatical Zionist; if you patronize Starbucks, you're supporting Israeli genocide.

Being a publicly traded company, the financial information is available, so go ahead and show on their financials where they are sending money to support Israeli genocide.

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