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Comment Re:Oh, really? (Score 3, Insightful) 1255

No, all students don't need to be educated. If we handled this the way countries like Germany did (or the US did in the old days), we'd have different schools for different kids, and the problem kids would go to the dumb-kid school, and be kept away from the rest of the kids. Just because there's a public mandate to have compulsory school for all children doesn't mean they all need to be mainstreamed in the same school and the same classes.

Comment Re:Oh, really? (Score 4, Insightful) 1255

I don't think a massive shift toward socialism would help much actually. It's not just the parents' wealth (or lack thereof) that's the problem, it's their culture and attitude towards education. Poor people generally don't believe that much in it; my mother was always told by her family that education is a waste of time and that a woman needs to get married at 16 and start having babies. Forcibly redistributing wealth to people like that isn't going to change their attitudes towards education. These things can be changed through well-funded education systems that seek to overcome parents' bad attitudes, but it takes generations, and the US has been going backwards for a long time.

Comment Re:Oh, really? (Score 1) 1255

It's called self-segregation. If you lump everyone together, the good parents are basically going to be fighting against the bad parents and their bad kids, and the overall quality of education is going to be mediocre at best, and that's IF the good parents put in a Herculean effort to fix things. Even then, their power is very limited by the political school boards, and by state and federal laws and funding. There's only so much a bunch of concerned parents can do.

However, if they take their kids out of the school and put them into a private school, they have far more say. The private school isn't answerable to stupid government requirements like NCLB, and private schools compete with each other. If one school sucks, you can leave it and put your kids in a competing school that's better-run. And since private schools don't have to deal with bad parents and bad kids, they have a much easier time of providing a good education.

Comment Re:It's true; Finland outperforms the USA (Score 1) 1255

It doesn't matter. Even if this system produces better results, it still restricts citizens' freedoms beyond what should be acceptable in a free society.

I fully support public education funded by taxes that everyone pays, and I believe that American system in particular is in a very sorry state to a large extent because of the way it is funded - it should really be funded predominantly on state level from income taxes, and better at that (even if this means higher taxes). But the state has absolutely no business telling people that they can't run a private school, so long as that school conforms to all the minimum requirements set forth for public schools.

(In a similar vein, a single-payer public healthcare system is good, but restrictions on private healthcare providers are evil.)

Comment Re:Oh, really? (Score 2) 1255

In some places it is great. In some places it is a horror show.

I went to both public and private school growing up and had a pretty good experience in both. That said, the schools I went to were top quality.

I've been to private (and Catholic) schools, and public schools in both good and bad areas. The public schools in good areas aren't too bad, though they aren't good at dealing with bullies as has been pointed out in the media many times since Columbine. The public schools in the bad areas are terrible, not so much because of the kids, but because of the terrible teachers. Good teachers don't want to teach at the schools in poor areas. And teachers' unions make it so they can't get rid of really bad ones. Private schools don't have most of these problems; problem children are expelled and bad teachers are generally not hired, and there's no unions.

Comment Re:Get involved but on a limited scale. (Score 1) 454

But rebel victory (implied by overthrowing Assad) would not really lead to a balkanized Syria. It would, more likely, lead to a unified Sunni Syria (which, I have to say, will complicate things for Iran even so).

Balkanized Syria would actually imply supporting either side to just an extent that's necessary to prompt splintering the country. Something that Assad has actually already talked about at some point (Shia/Christians/Druze get most of the shore, Sunni get the rest of it).


How Patent Trolls Stalled a New Transit App 85

SFGate has the story of Aaron Bannert, creator of a San Francisco transit app called Smart Ride. The app was developed to provide arrival times for the city's bus system. Smart Ride was supported by ads, and Bannert had not yet turned a profit on it when he received a legal threat from a company claiming patent infringement. "It was from a company with ties to Martin Kelly Jones, who holds a series of patents claiming ownership of technologies for tracking vehicles and providing users with electronic updates. A handful of affiliated companies, including ArrivalStar and Melvino Technologies, have threatened or sued hundreds of organizations in recent years, from small entrepreneurs like Bannert to large corporations like American Airlines. ... ArrivalStar filed more than half the patent lawsuits in South Florida federal courts last year, according to the South Florida Business Journal. ... ArrivalStar will demand as much as $200,000 for a license, according to reports in other publications." The cost to the patent troll for filing a lawsuit is around $500, but Bannert was forced to spend over $10,000 on a legal defense and delay the launch of a new version for months. He's unable to provide details on the outcome of the case. "As high as the legal expenses were for Bannert, he thinks the bigger toll from patent trolling is the indirect cost to society, the products and innovation that don't make it off the drawing board."

Comment Re:Dream on (Score 1) 292

Whatever the encryption is, you can bet your bottom dollar bill that the NSA is at least two decades ahead of it.

That's why, if you want it really secure, you leverage their own security.

Hack an NSA/TLA network, and store your encrypted data right alongside of their data.

You could hide your data on Obama's Blackberry servers, or on Gen. Alexander's, Valerie Jarret's, or Clapper's machines.

For extra happy-fun-time, make sure to include some CP, bestiality, and snuff films in separate files/folders, and then out them publicly. Sauce for the gander. :)

The US government has by their own actions declared a de-facto no-rules, no-laws, screw-the-Constitution, all-out cyber-war...not only against every other government including supposed US "allies", but their own citizens as well. History teaches that the dues incurred for such hubris always get paid.


Comment Re: War should Suck (Score 1) 454

Germans were crushed by and large by the USSR. If you look at number of troops fielded against Allies in Italy and France, and casualties, it's all really secondary to Stalingrad and Kursk.

Allied (mainly American) support in terms of supply was important to the Soviets in 1941-42, when their own industrial base was largely overrun and in shambles. By the end of the war, though, it was recovered to beyond its original (already very impressive) scale, and kept growing steadily. Look at the numbers of small arms, tanks and planes produced in the USSR in 1943-45, and compare to US and Germany; you'll be surprised. Certainly by 45, Soviets could get along just fine without lend lease.

It is a similar story with casualties. Most of that 1:2 disparity comes from the first two years of the war, when Soviets were getting steamrolled; the proportion then was actually far worse. But by 1944, it was already 1:1, and by 1945 the steamroller was in full reverse. Not surprising, given that purges in 1939-41 have decimated the Soviet officer corps, and it took a lot of bitter combat experience to grow the replacement - but by '44 it was there, lots of experienced, battle hardened commanders, and Stalin had put politruks on a leash, too.

So no, the USSR was not out of breath by '45. Quite the opposite, it had its war machine cranked out to full steam, and still considerable manpower resource with a lot of combat experience. Not enough to keep fighting an extended offensive for much longer, which is why Stalin stopped at Berlin. But certainly enough to stop any new invasion of its territory in its tracks.

Comment Re:War should Suck (Score 1) 454

What makes you think that US could have successfully fought a war, far away from its borders, against an army that just wiped the floor with the single strongest military in Europe? Keeping in mind that what you propose requires not just victory (as in opponent admitting defeat and surrendering), but complete takeover and occupation of Soviet territory. Also remember that the bulk of Soviet war industry by that time was at the Urals, and Allies had no bombers that could reliably get that far to destroy it, which was possible with Germany.

Look at the casualties of Axis forces in WW2, and note where they were inflicted. Once you do the math, you'll realize that 2/3 of all Axis dead (this includes Japan!) died on the Eastern Front in Europe, fighting Soviets.

Comment Re:How about no. (Score 2) 454

If we stay out, then all the other nations will be pissed at us because the U.S. is expected to be the police force of the world and we are expected to spend our money, troops and resources to fix everybody else's problems.

They won't (well, except for rebels in Syria).

Just look at the polls. The majority of people in UK and France are against participating in any military action against Syria. UK Parliament has just voted to not participate. Heck, even Syria's immediate neighbors are not all too happy about any potential strikes.

Comment Re:I never understood the principle. (Score 1) 454

It is in fact difficult to imagine any war, where the use of chemical weapons wouldn't cause disproportional losses among civilians

Why imagine it when it actually existed? It was WW1. For that matter, most uses of chemical weapons in Iran-Iraq war were on the battlefield against enemy soldiers, as well.

Yes, using chemical weapons in a middle of a populated city guarantees civilian casualties. But then so do sufficiently powerful bombs, which didn't stop NATO from using them in Belgrade in 1998.

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What is wanted is not the will to believe, but the will to find out, which is the exact opposite. -- Bertrand Russell, "Skeptical Essays", 1928