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Comment: Norway: super rich country with strong support? (Score 2) 320

Non-Norwegian here. Isn't Norway one of the richest countries in the world with a strong social support system? So the situations which make somebody homeless in other countries don't apply to Norway?

For example - in USA, I believe that people have to pay for healthcare, and after a certain period of time, no longer get housing benefit support when unemployed (USA person will have to help me here) - so it is possible to be a hard working member of society, but due to illness, get in debt (paying for medicine) and end up homeless (because you can't work, so can't pay your housing bills) so get made homeless, and can't get another place to live because you don't have the money to rent a new place?

If somebody is ill in Norway, do they have to pay for healthcare? if somebody is unemployed, will the state give them financial support to pay their housing costs? If so, you have a very different environment from other countries in the world.

Comment: We don''t do tax returns in the UK,you insensitive (Score 5, Interesting) 386

by fantomas (#46756701) Attached to: Slashdot Asks: How Do You Pay Your Taxes?

The majority of people in the UK who work for an employer (rather than self-employed), and don't have other income to declare (e.g. part time self-employed in their own hobby business, renting out a property, or rich enough to be generating significant income from investments or savings) don't fill in tax returns, it is managed by their employer through Pay-As-You-Earn. As wikipedia says "because the tax code reflects other income (including the state pension), the PAYE system typically results in the correct amount of tax being paid on all the income of a taxpayer, making a tax return redundant".

Let the flamewar begin :-)

Comment: Those who use the bicycle hire scheme in London (Score 1) 41

by fantomas (#46723707) Attached to: London's Public Bike Data Can Tell Everyone Where You've Been

Those who use the bicycle hire scheme in London, which is a subset of all people. But I agree with you, it's very interesting that the data's public. It might not be a violation of privacy if you've agreed to it when you hire the bike though? Never hired one of those bikes myself so I am not sure what you've agreed to when you click on "ok".

Comment: Futurism? the early C20th art movement? (Score 5, Insightful) 293

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.

Comment: Polytechs converting to unis was not the problem (Score 1) 321

by fantomas (#46148293) Attached to: James Dyson: We Should Pay Students To Study Engineering

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).

Comment: Why controversial? was true for 1980s students (Score 3, Informative) 321

by fantomas (#46140499) Attached to: James Dyson: We Should Pay Students To Study Engineering

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...


EU Secretly Plans To Put a Back Door In Every Car By 2020 364

Posted by timothy
from the don't-worry-we'll-only-track-you dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A secretive EU body has agreed to develop a device to be fitted to all cars allowing police to cut off any engine at will, it emerged today. The device, which could be imposed within a decade, would also allow police to track a vehicle's movements as well as immobilise it. According to The Daily Telegraph a group of senior EU officials, including several Home Office mandarins, have signed off the proposal at a secret meeting in Brussels."

Comment: Primary school teaching a poor example (Score 1) 612

by fantomas (#45765793) Attached to: Is Computer Science Education Racist and Sexist?

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.


Is Computer Science Education Racist and Sexist? 612

Posted by timothy
from the what-the-does-the-magic-8-ball-say dept.
theodp writes "What's wrong with this picture?" asked at its launch earlier this year, lamenting the lack of Computer Science students in a race and gender reference-free infographic. But as the organization has grown via public/private partnerships and inked agreements to drive the CS curriculum for the Chicago and NYC school systems, the same stats webpage has adopted a new gender and racial equity focus, positioning Computer Science education as "a chance to level the playing field" for women, Hispanic and African American students. The new message is consistent with the recently-forged partnership with the NSF-funded Exploring Computer Science (ECS, "a K-12/university partnership committed to democratizing computer science") and Computer Science Principles (CSP, "a new course under development that seeks to broaden participation in computing and computer science"). According to The Research Behind ECS, an "insidious 'virtual segregation' that maintains inequality" is to blame for keeping the number of African Americans and Latino/as CS students disproportionately low. So, what might the future of's proposed equity-based U.S. K-12 CS education look like? "Including culturally relevant instructional materials represented a driving focus of our course development," explained ECS Team members who now advise "Cultural design tools encourage students to artistically express computing design concepts from Latino/a, African American, or Native American history as well as cultural activities in dance, skateboarding, graffiti art, and more. These types of lessons are important for students to build personal relationships with computer science concepts and applications – an important process for discovering the relevance of computer science for their own life." And — ironically for — it could mean less coding."

Comment: Perhaps US geeks are not their target audience (Score 3, Interesting) 268

by fantomas (#45702093) Attached to: Photos Stream Back From China's Lunar Lander

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.


Science Museum Declines To Show Climate Change Film 398

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the i'm-not-listening-i'm-not-listening dept.
sciencehabit writes "A premier science museum in North Carolina has sparked controversy by refusing to show an hour long film about climate change and rising sea levels. The museum may be in a bit of a delicate position. It is part of a state agency, the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources. The state government has been perceived as hostile to action on climate change; last year, the legislature passed a bill forbidding the state coastal commission from defining rates of sea-level rise for regulation before 2016."

Comment: More exact, less "About" if you use metric ;-) (Score 1) 34

by fantomas (#45471543) Attached to: CubeSat Launch Visible Around U.S. East Coast Tonight

"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

Comment: anti-Catholic was a major aspect, also pro-monarch (Score 1) 388

by fantomas (#45345533) Attached to: Anonymous Clashes With D.C. Police During Million Mask March

"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.

Comment: Irrelevant to your friends' employment perhaps? (Score 1) 64

by fantomas (#45271609) Attached to: Web Literacy Standard Announced By Mozilla

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.

"Consistency requires you to be as ignorant today as you were a year ago." -- Bernard Berenson