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Comment: Re:Hate it! (Score 2) 150 150

That's what I thought when I looked at it a few months ago. But looking at it today I am shocked by the overall higher quality of the news. Who cares about the Beats Pill story? I don't, but if I did I could get it on an Apple-centric news site (where I saw it earlier today anyway). But videos of the F35-B test flight? Exoplanets? Better coverage of the "USA Freedom Act"? Granted it's different but I'm prepared to switch to it right now. Sorry Slashdot, but you're secondary now.

Comment: Re: First to File (Score 1) 97 97

In this caseit's intimidation of everyone and anyone who might interfere with the business models of those currently in power.

Really? Khan Academy isn't exactly the most powerful organization around. Or were you talking about those that most commonly abuse the patent system? They aren't the power players either. Unless you mean all the big tech companies (Intel, Apple, Google, Microsoft, etc.) who have spent unnecessary billions on patent war chests just to keep themselves protected from each other. Nobody wants a repeat of the sticky and extremely expensive litigation between Apple and Samsung, and even that case was more of a personal vendetta than any kind of purposeful business decision. Just like nobody really wants to be in a nuclear war after seeing the devastation in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

There may be a number of ways to keep power in power, but I seriously doubt anybody in power really wants their "mutually assured destruction" patent policy to resemble the Cold War.

Comment: Re:First to File (Score 1) 97 97

But if I'm part of the echo chamber I get modded +5 Insightful!

Which I really wasn't expecting. All I'm really trying to say is that they're just defending themselves (pre-emptive strike style) in a hostile patent system. I hope that's what people ultimately read, not my Slashdot understanding of the law. I am not a lawyer.

Comment: First to File (Score 4, Insightful) 97 97

If they don't patent this, someone else will. Because we now have a "first to file" system, where prior art doesn't matter if the prior artist never patented it. And no, educational methods should not be patentable, but if this patent is granted then they did the right thing. Cheaper to file a patent than defend against a troll later on.

Of course that doesn't mean the patent should be unopposed and shouldn't be given out to the public for free. Khan Academy has no business sealing up their methods as proprietary. But there are no white knights in the patent system. You can't not play the game, you can only lose it to the trolls.

Comment: Re:Governments contract private companies. (Score 1) 206 206

Local-level politics are a great idea that just don't seem to be feasible anymore. Most local politicians run unopposed these days. The Democrats just aren't organized enough to support local candidates most of the time anyway. Besides, it's hard to get voters interested anyway when the national elections have TV ads and social media campaigns and massive media buildup.

Comment: Re:Governments contract private companies. (Score 1) 206 206

One data point is not good enough. And are you really happy with the choice of TWC or Verizon? Neither company is really known for great customer service.

Where I live it's $30/mo minumum for high speed at 7mbps, and if you want any more you go with the cable company that won't even tell you up front what the cost is after the first year (it's something like $70/mo from what I've gathered, but it also has a tendency to hike another $5-10 every year for no good reason).

Where my parents live - in (rural) SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA - they can't even get a 1.5mbps DSL connection. Phone companies just won't build out the last mile, and cable companies don't even have TV out there. The best internet available is from an understaffed local firm that beams a high-intensity signal straight to used satellite dishes pointed at Fallbrook. Which is better than the nation-wide available HughesNet satellite internet that charges ridiculous fees for data over absurdly low caps, not to mention the terrible latency inherent to beaming every packet to and from space.

Shopping for internet was better in the dial-up days. At least then anybody could set up a dial-up ISP and they were really competing for service. Not that I want dial-up again. But damn have we sold out for better internet when we're getting it from the f*king CABLE company.

Comment: Re:A short, speculative cautionary tale... (Score 1) 407 407

They don't know how to do it any other way. Don't think all the educators and administrators in this country wouldn't love to teach everybody all of those things. But the more people we want to succeed, the more it becomes obvious the broad swaths of our population that aren't prepared for it. So they cut back the "non-essentials". Then they cut out the "too-hards". Then when all else fails, they actually cheat on their own students' tests because they have failed to motivate those students to learn the pared down meaningless boredom that passes for school now. And I'm sure plenty of these educators have great ideas that could genuinely fix the system if only the idiots would get out of their way, but sadly idiocy is spread pretty evenly across all professions no matter how much we'd like for the better-paid administrators to actually be better at their own jobs.

That's our problem. It's not that any of these people fundamentally believe that it's impossible to properly educate all the unmotivated people. It's that they've tried and tried and failed almost every time and often just given up trying.

Comment: Re:A short, speculative cautionary tale... (Score 1) 407 407

Right now, nobody has accepted that wood burns (and gets hot when it does so) as an engineering fact.

Are you kidding? The American educational system has been dragged through the mud for the last 40+ years over the idea that all children can be geniuses. It's virtually eliminated vocational training that would benefit the masses that reach high school with no intention of ever going to college. It's driven us into a standardized-testing muck that penalizes poor inner city schools for failing to deliver on the promise that their kids can perform just as well as the better-funded schools in white suburbia. Your basic concept that we all have the same hardware capabilities has been wholeheartedly adopted into the school system and done a lot of damage.

Of course the damage isn't because that concept is wrong. It's not wrong. But it implies that we can just ignore all the very real imbalances in our society and pretend that all a kid needs is enough motivation. It's not, and motivation is harder to come by than you think.

Comment: Re:A short, speculative cautionary tale... (Score 1) 407 407

I wish I could take your ideals seriously, but imagining a solution for society is not the same as implementing a solution. Even if whatever you want to do is provably the best possible outcome, society is built of a whole bunch of people that aren't you, many of whom don't care to listen to your solution let alone follow through on it. You are walking the path to becoming the crackpot that nobody listens to, who is quite possibly out of touch because the problem changed since you started working on it. You need to build a group of other personalities that can contribute more physical presence and build a movement rather than just the group of personalities in your head that can't do anything more than talk one at a time.

Comment: Re:A short, speculative cautionary tale... (Score 1) 407 407

You're not even stretching this; they're all the same, just they're employing their brains differently.

Isn't taking Adderall to study longer another way to employ your brain differently? The fear is that that would become the new normal for high achievers. Do you dispute that a highly motivated intelligent student would perform better with more time to study? Which comes around to my original point (see, it wasn't that off-topic after all!): our only saving grace is that these students will be evaluated by tests that also have to assess the underachievers that have no interest (or resources) in performance enhancing drugs. We'd be in serious trouble though if it got harder to get that perfect SAT score.

But wait! The SAT is not the only performance metric. The rest of the horror story is about overworking in general. It's not really about how smart you are all the time. Often it's about how fast you can learn and how fast you can get stuff done. Imagine a future where finishing college in 4 years is a red flag that you don't work hard enough. Where all the high achievers finish in three years with an internship every year and studying abroad and some kind of volunteer project on the side while being in 5 different on-campus organizations and leading at least one of them. And then when that's all over, the same people are expected to work 100-hour weeks all the time. Nobody should be pressured into unknown long-term health risks to compete with that.

Comment: Re:A short, speculative cautionary tale... (Score 1) 407 407

I know, but this is Slashdot, where I had something I wanted to say and just had to find the right place to put it ;)

But since you want an actual discussion: there are clear differences in intelligence between Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking, and yourself (I'm assuming; substitute whomever you want if you're really a hotshot). Does it matter if you're all functionally capable of the same feats? You're not all accomplishing them. And some kids do try hard and just can't get the same grades as others. The others probably had a head start with more educated parents, or they have better learning techniques, or their personalities are just better suited to school. Just because the other kids don't have "genetic superbrains" doesn't mean there's no difference.

Comment: Sounds like Major League Baseball (Score 1) 407 407

Performance enhancing drugs are a big problem in baseball and other sports. We shouldn't need to go much farther than why the Olympics ban their use to see why they should be banned in the workplace. It's all the same rat race whether you think you're making a product or "just" a victory.

Comment: Re:A short, speculative cautionary tale... (Score 1) 407 407

I was about to suggest that SATs will get harder to follow the drug-enhanced baseline, but let's get real. SATs have been getting easier for decades and there's no way drugs are going to change that trend. Smart, highly motivated kids will always be able to get perfect or nearly perfect scores on any standardized test.

Reality must take precedence over public relations, for Mother Nature cannot be fooled. -- R.P. Feynman

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