Is a 'gigafactory' one that is a thousand million times bigger than a typical Detroit automobile factory? I am not quite sure I understand the term....
Well if you're going to teach about Futurism you should definitely include some critical consideration of the effect of industrialisation on European and North American countries, consider how art was affected by the experiences of artists in the First World War, and how it influenced the later art movements such as Art Deco, Surrealism, and Dada.
The conversion of polytechnics to universities wasn't the problem: I was at a polytechnic in the mid 80s and got a grant cheque, as did most (all?) of my friends. Polytechnic students got grants just like university students. Courses were free to students: nobody paid a penny in "course fees".
It sounds like I am about ten years older than you, the generation that looked on in shock as the concept of students paying course fees was introduced. We were upset when grant cheques were gradually reduced to zero before that.
I was from a middle class background with both parents working, so definitely not a poor student. But I got all my course fees paid and some living expenses paid by the government (to cover rent, food, books). I seem to remember it was on a sliding scale at that time (mid 80s) which was a recent change, with less paid to wealthier families and more paid to poorer families. But I am pretty sure I remember it covered all my rent money at least, it was a big enough cheque that my mum worried I was going to blow it all on booze and parties and random nice things and not put it in the bank to cover my rent and food!
Industrial scholarships existed but were a different thing - those guys lived like kings while they were students.
I suspect one of the arguments that might be offered is the increase in the number of students over the period from 80s to present making it more of an expensive proposition to fund. However, I suspect it also might be a political model: the right wing governments in the UK are very keen on a US model of funding, rather than a social democratic European model. I can't say whether a higher percentage of UK 18 year olds go on to study at undergraduate level than those in say the Netherlands or France or Finland, but there's definitely a different funding model between the US (leave college with $100K debt) and some European countries (course fees much lower than the UK, potentially leave with low to zero debt).
Not sure why the article describes this a "controversial proposal". In the 1980s in the UK many (all?) undergraduates got grants (scholarships from the state for living expenses) as well as all their course fees paid.
Perhaps it's an indication of how politics have changed that the proposal to reinstate something the people assumed was a normal expenditure by the government of the day, both left and right wing, for several decades (state support of people undertaking university studies) is now considered "controversial".
Ah happy memories of the grant cheque coming in, bank managers trying to appear down with the kids to get them to sign up for their first bank account with that large cheque and more to follow, financial management learnt by many who hadn't previously had anything more than their weekly income from a paper round striding down the streets of a big new city with three months of bed and board advance payments burning a hole in their pockets...
Actually there's quite a lot of debate about whether societal and professional attitudes make it more difficult for men to enter and stay in primary school teaching so perhaps this is not the best example to offer.
Try asking two friends (one male, one female) to announce in a conversation with their friends in a party that they like children and would like to work with them. I suspect the reaction will be quite different in each case. I can only offer anecdotal evidence but here in the UK I know two friends who are male primary school teachers and often have to justify their decision and are faced with critical responses, hinting that their motives are questionable: they've really had to fight prejudiced opinions.
Perhaps delivering high resolution images to US/ Western geeks is not their primary mission. Perhaps a few low res snapshots to keep the western media off their back (see, we really did it, put away your conspiracy theory stories) is all they felt obliged to do.
Maybe there's a high res camera sending pictures back to their scientific research / military people and they just don't feel the need to distribute this material to the general public in other countries. The Chinese funding model might not be the same as the USA's, maybe they don't need to distribute high res holiday snaps to ensure continued funding.
Perhaps there's no high res camera on board because the science of the mission doesn't need any more than a few low res snaps. The real work might be elsewhere. I've read a couple of articles that note that the lander is much bigger than you might expect for a rover of this size, so it might be the real mission here is to test lander technologies in preparation for sending a manned mission. It might be that the real science is around testing that platform, and the rover is just supplementary, a nice addition for extra kudos and you might as well do it while you're there.
"about 4 inches on each side, weighing about 3 pounds and with a volume of about a quart."
According to the specification linked from the wikipedia article, you can offer more exact measurements in metric:
-The CubeSat shall be 100mm +/- 0.1 mm wide (X and Y dimensions)
- The CubeSat shall be 113.5mm +/- 0.1 mm wide (Z dimension)
- Each single CubeSat shall not exceed 1.33kg mass
"It was a celebration of the capture and execution of anti-government forces, with some vaguely anti-Catholic undertones"
The Gunpowder Plot was a plan to blow up the (Protestant) King and politicians and replace with Catholic alternatives, including the possibility of replacing the current Protestant line with a Catholic monarch and more pro-Catholic politicians. Hence the celebrations centred around the failure of a Plot to kill the monarch, and celebrate his continued good health. Given the political and religious context of the times, this included strong, rather than 'vague' anti-Catholic undertones: for many years it was traditional to burn an effigy of the pope, and the famous folk verse includes the lines:
" A rope, a rope, to hang the Pope,
A penn'orth of cheese to choke him,
A pint of beer to wash it down,
And a jolly good fire to burn him. "
Less revolutionary Catholics of the time feared a revolutionary responses to the suppression of Catholics in England at the time in case there was a backlash from the authorities, and indeed this did happen with the discovery and failure of the plot.
Probably both sides were as illiberal as each other at the time, lots of nasty things were done in the name of God and the King across Europe.
I'd very much agree with you that people have re-interpreted the event to their own ends. I don't think the plotters were in the least bit bothered about votes for women, abolition of slavery, replacing a monarch with an elected president, and would happily have burnt anarchists at the stake if they'd found some.
Not knowing the difference between the web and the internet or understanding what IP addresses are does not reduce the employment chances of many people. It maybe more useful than knowing about oak trees (unless you're a carpenter, furniture maker or tree surgeon) but I don't think a lot of taxi drivers / accountants / airline pilots / office workers are too bothered.
With respect to the UK (not England, England is not the UK, just as the USA is not America): "Can't afford it" is an interesting question.
Is it rather a case of "what the government chooses to spend its money on"?
I am reminded of the quality of life in Costa Rica opposed to its neighbours: Costa Rica decided to abolish its army in 1949 and spends the money on education and health instead; it has a high level of literacy and has 'health tourists' who visit from the USA. Perhaps the issue of cost is around what you decide to spend your money on.
I am not sure Iceland went bankrupt? I think it nearly did, but the problem was that the government decided not to bail out the banks. I believe the country is doing rather well these days.
Went to a presentation on a project that's released its web tool as an app (iSpot - a nature spotting community tool). the project leaders said that at the point they decided to develop an Android app version, they asked the technical team to identify how many different versions/configurations of Android were out there that they'd need to make sure the code presented well on, to ensure a good user experience for all (you really don't need your first reviews on Google Play to say it sucks on their device in their preferred configuration). Apparently the technical team identified 123 versions/configurations of Android (approximately early 2012).
The project leader said this makes it a nightmare to test for a small development team (about 4 employees on the project). I am not sure what the solution is but it sounds like it causes them a lot of pain and requires a lot of management to ensure the majority of users get an equitable and positive experience of the app.
"30 years from now) self-driving cars will start becoming the majority in developed nations" Missing option: here in Europe, we have public transport and somebody else drives!
Can't imagine big European cities functioning without buses/trams/underground metro systems....
Maybe in 30 years time there will be more public mass transit systems around the world, which are more efficient as moving large numbers of people. Perhaps an alternative world view is increased development of mass transit systems? (understood that this needs a mass of people, and another solution required for less densely populated rural areas). Would NYC function well if everybody shifted from the Metro to driving themselves?
"The last thing we need is awesome tech only spies and generals possess (weapons of mass destruction/contamination being a notable exception). "
Just curious - why do you exclude these (weapons of mass destruction) from your definition of technology=good if everybody has it? It suggests you are declaring that the declaration that technology should be accessible to all is qualified by value judgements - who gets to make the judgement call? you, me, random person in Afghanistan/Bolivia/Estonia? the UN?
If nuclear weapons are not ok, how about large aerial launched bombs/missiles? How about hand grenades? or hand guns? wonder what the qualifying point is and how you came to it.
The quote came from a commercial corporate journalist, not a government source. Blame the private sector for this one.
Poor slashdot article summary, the In Serbia magazine explains more clearly why this was done: the authors did it to ridicule the "hyperproduction of quasi-scientific works by Serbian professors that are published in the magazines of dubious quality" - they are having a pop at Serbian professors knocking out poor quality rubbish with more concern for volume than quality, and to where ever they can get them published. That said, I'd say this implies there's some definitive criticism at the low editorial quality of the Romanian publication for taking the article without identifying it as a hoax, and probably some commentary on the pressures of being a Serbian academic, looks like their universities or national funding bodies put them under pressure to produce volume and don't look too carefully at the quality when deciding how to fund their researchers.