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+ - Washington Post refuses to run columns critical of it's for-profit subsidiary

Submitted by sam_handelman
sam_handelman (519767) writes "For whatever reason, Washington Post columnist Jay Matthews first agreed to run — and then changed his mind — a column very critical of Kaplan K-12. This was two years ago, but the regulatory capture plans of for-profit education business have become big news since then. On a totally incidental note, Kaplan K-12 is a highly profitable subsidiary of the Washington Post Corporation."

Comment: Organizing links (Score 1) 250

by sam_handelman (#43074139) Attached to: $100 Million Student Database Worries Parents

Sheila Kaplan has been on this since federal child provacy laws were relaxed to permit it in 2011. She launched Education New York's National Opt-out Campaign to alert parents to their rights under FERPA to restrict third-party access to their children's information and encourage them to review their school's annual FERPA notification at the beginning of the
school year. Here's her website:
http://www.educationnewyork.com/about.html

and a parent information page
http://educationnewyork.com/optoutnow

Comment: Re:As Steve Jobs might conclude (Score 4, Interesting) 216

by sam_handelman (#41229879) Attached to: The Gates Foundation Engages Its Critics

Stripped of the invective, AC is 100% correct - did you actually READ any of the articles above?

  In either story?

  The fact that the Gates Foundation can do more-or-less whatever it wants (Karl Rove is an even more egregious example) and deduct that from their taxes is a minor problem. The real problem is that they're using their combination of leveraged money and free P.R. from fools like you to take over vast quantities of [b]our tax dollars[/b] and redirect that money into their coffers and the coffers of their allies like Pearson Education, Murdoch, etc.

Education

+ - The Gates Foundation Engages its Critics->

Submitted by
sam_handelman
sam_handelman writes "The Gates Foundation responded to the critiques of its policies (previously discussed here) by inviting its critics at Education Week Teacher to a dialog on its own site. Edweek blogger Anthony Cody answered the challenge. The two sides negotiated a five-part series of post and counterpost, which can be viewed on both sites. Previous exchanges include Cody's question, Can Schools Defeat Poverty by Ignoring It?, and an answer from the Gates Foundation's Global Press Secretary, Chris Williams, Poverty Does Matter--But It Is Not Destiny.

  The final round of the dialog has begun, and is available for comment on the Gates Foundation's own blog. Slashdot readers may not know about Gates' sponsorship of specific edutech industry partners, such as Rupert Murdoch's Wireless Generation, and Pearson Education. Cody poses tough questions, including, "Can the Gates Foundation reconsider and reexamine its own underlying assumptions, and change its agenda in response to the consequences we are seeing?" According to the agreement, the Gates Foundation will answer in the coming week, concluding the series."

Link to Original Source

Comment: Problem is, there's no data integrity (Score 1) 86

by sam_handelman (#40721285) Attached to: Software Emulates Organism's Entire Lifespan

This is cool, but as I read it here (and someone correct me if I'm wrong), it's no substitute for doing a real experiment. I'm going to launch into a long explanatory diatribe - models like this one can be VERY useful for hypothesis generation, or to try and understand seemingly disconnected results that (very often) arise in a biological experiment. They are especially useful when you have some hypothesis/theory of how a complex system is governed and you need to generate some prediction which you can experimentally test based on your theory.

  But not a substitute for the real experiment, no way no how. Why? Because living things aren't designed, and they don't respect your modularity, abstract data typing, etc. etc.

  For example, suppose your bacterium starts making some huge amount of a membrane protein (a common thing you do in the lab, for reasons outside the scope of this example). What's going to happen?

  Well, that protein is going to try and fold up in the membrane, but as you make more and more of it, the protein is going to fail to get there. Other proteins destined for the membrane are going to experience the same problem. Are you going to update every single module that contains something membrane bound, to reflect this? As they accumulate in the membrane, the membrane curvature is going to change, and this in turn is going to change the relative concentrations of various lipids on each leaf of the membrane, which alters the chemistry of everything that interacts with the membrane in any way (a whole bunch more modules.)

  Even if you have those effects covered, they're going to have indirect (and non-linear) effects on the concentration of various ions in the cytosol (all of which, just for starters, interact with the inner membrane with different affinities), the excess protein is going to start accumulating in inclusion bodies which are going to start taking up physical space inside the cell. These two changes alter the likelihood of interaction and the energy of interaction of every single other thing going on in the cell (!). So good luck with that.

  That's just one example. The same thing would happen if you sheared the DNA, or heat shocked the cell, or put the cell in an environment of rapidly changing nutrient concentrations. To put all that in CS terms - the actual cell isn't object oriented, there's all sorts of cross-talk between the different components (because they're physical objects in a little tiny soap bubble, they're bumping into each other) and no abstraction layer or anything of that kind.

  To be quite honest, I am of the opinion that a living cell is an irreducible system, and the only way you'd get a real substitute for experiments on actual cells would be JUST MAYBE if you ran a molecular dynamics simulation on all 10^14 or so atoms; and if you did so with a much better physics engine than we have now.

Comment: Universities do it for the wrong reasons (Score 1) 190

by sam_handelman (#40718349) Attached to: Can Anyone Catch Khan Academy?

There are a lot of reasons to be physically present at a "brick and mortar" university with an instsructor in the room with you.

  To the extent that universities want to break from this model, it isn't about education at all. It isn't even about making an education cheaper; it's about extracting money from suckers.

  So, good for Khan Academy for doing what they're doing and giving it away for free. All the bottom feeders (including Bill Gates) who want to charge money for this stuff have nothing useful to offer and are just trying to game the system in one or another way for a buck.

Education

+ - A critical evaluation of Bill Gates' role in education->

Submitted by
sam_handelman
sam_handelman writes "Although less well known or widely lauded than their charitable efforts in the third world, the Gates foundation has extensive links to the so-called ed reform movement. Although the periodical edweek generally supports education reform, edweek is carrying a second blog post (with links to investigative journalism pieces) which is extremely critical of the gates foundation's role in education, accusing the Gates foundation of doing harm to students, while using their leveraged contributions to waste huge sums of taxpayer money. The quantity of taxpayer dollars involved are potentially in the hundreds of billions $US, and the profit margin for education-vendors is typically very high.

Part I, about the Gates foundation in Africa and elsewhere, was covered on slashdot last week."

Link to Original Source

Comment: Re:How about no? (Score 1) 183

by sam_handelman (#40638923) Attached to: Feds: We Need Priority Access To Cloud Resources

The pressure to do this is NOT coming from the federal government, it's coming from the companies that sell the cloud services!

  So instead of having the federal government just maintain an emergency backup infrastructure itself, these private companies (Amazon etc.) WANT the federal government to buy electronic services from them! And the feds come back and say, "well, in order to make that workable we'd need guaranteed access in an emergency and bleah-de-bleah." Privatization of emergency services is an unmitigated disaster and we just shouldn't do it.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2006/aug/30/comment.hurricanekatrina

  The obvious solution is: How about No? But it's the federal government that needs to say that to the cloud-computing vendors, not the other way around!

Comment: Re:WTF? (Score 1) 370

by sam_handelman (#40550835) Attached to: A Critical Examination of Bill Gates' Philanthropic Record

You're accusing her of doing a hatchet job, but you're clearly not reading any of the links, which discuss the details of the partnerships extensively.

  Your accusation - that she has a "conspiracy theory" *is* a hatchet job. What makes it a conspiracy theory? None of this is particularly secret; these people don't all have to be in the room at once, plotting. The accusation is that the Gates foundation's supposed charity does significant harm, based on an ideological commitment to corporatism, and she's assembled scads of material to document that assertion.

  If you can't see anything but paranoia, that's something that you're reading into it, not a criticism of the substance; which, again, you appear not to have even read.

  The way that the trust is organized doesn't protect from conflict of interest; and that's a concern. But the real issue is the awful things they enduce other charitable actors to do with other-people's-money.

Comment: Re:So basically... (Score 5, Insightful) 370

by sam_handelman (#40550129) Attached to: A Critical Examination of Bill Gates' Philanthropic Record

Oh, please, that's just complete bullshit.

  I'm assuming you didn't actually read the article? Perhaps you read the careful research in the primary source:
http://www.ghwatch.org/sites/www.ghwatch.org/files/D3_0.pdf

  Pharmaceutical companies make third world dictatorships look like Finland.

Comment: Re:Shareholders don't like it? (Score 2) 370

by sam_handelman (#40550063) Attached to: A Critical Examination of Bill Gates' Philanthropic Record

No, that's not what it says; in fact, that is the OPPOSITE of what it says.

  STAKEHOLDERS (not Shareholders) is occupy-wallstreet-speak for the people who have some vested interest in the outcome - employees, customers, people in malaria-infested countries, doctors, etc.

  Third world DOCTORS - the recipients of Bill's so-called generosity - are the ones complaining.

Comment: Re:So basically... (Score 5, Informative) 370

by sam_handelman (#40550035) Attached to: A Critical Examination of Bill Gates' Philanthropic Record

In fact, no, that is not it either. Plenty of money is going to corrupt African dictatorships.

  But money is being directed AWAY from public health infrastructure, and the people who are complaining about it (I know: too much to ask for you to read the article) are doctors and public health workers in the African countries.

Education

+ - Edweek critically examines Bill Gates' philanthropic record->

Submitted by
sam_handelman
sam_handelman writes "The common perception among Slashdotters is that while Bill Gates may cause us some professional difficulties, he makes up for it with an exemplary philanthropic record. His philanthropic efforts may turn out to be even worse than his operating system. Edweek, not ordinarily an unfriendly venue for Gates, is running a series of blog post/investigative journalism pieces into what the Gates' foundation is doing, and how it is not always well received by stakeholders."
Link to Original Source

Comment: Re:Holes? (Score 5, Interesting) 303

by sam_handelman (#40510845) Attached to: Making Saltwater Drinkable With Graphene

A couple of people have raised this issue, and it relies on a fundamental mis-understanding of how the universe works on a molecular scale.

  Suppose that I have my colander and I wash some vegetables in it. Gunk can get stuck in the holes and it has to be washed off, which requires a fair amount of work because I have to break the interaction between the gunk and the surface. That's your macroscopic intuition about how filters and such work.

  But your macroscopic intuition will lead you astray in this case. The individual holes in graphene do not work that way; yes, occasionally, molecules of one kind or another will spend some time stuck to the graphene (a useful phenomenon in other circumstances - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High-performance_liquid_chromatography) but, on the scale of atoms, they are effectively in a high-powered washing machine ALL THE TIME.

  Can't find quite the movie I want... this'll do:
http://protonsforbreakfast.wordpress.com/2012/04/11/brownian-motion-observed-in-milk/

  So you see those oil bubbles wiggling around? Given that amount of constant wiggle, are you worried about having them "stuck" anywhere? That's thermal vibration from being at room temperature. Those milk bubbles are over 1,000 water molecules across, so each of those "wiggles" is 10 or 100 times the size of an individual graphene pore; are you worried about anything another 1000x smaller being "stuck" anywhere? It would be like worrying about gunk stuck in your colander while your colander was sitting in a fire-hose 24/7.

  Anyway- to cut to the chase:
obviously you could have you take the graphene and you run the sea water *past* it at high pressure. Occasionally some gunk gets in there but it washes away sooner or later; and nothing spends any appreciable amount of time stuck in an individual graphene hole.

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