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Submission + - Call to Action: Plan an #InstallFreeBSD Event (

An anonymous reader writes: Trollaxor is putting out a call for individuals to organize #installFreeBSD events in their locales. The purpose of these events is to increase awareness of FreeBSD. These events will take place simultaneously the evening of Wednesday, April 1.

Submission + - SWAT teams in MA assert they are private entitites not subject to FOA (

sam_handelman writes: The North Eastern Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council, an umbrella organization for SWAT Teams in MA, has asserted in court that they are a private entity not subject to freedom of information act requests. According to a report in the local paper, the Eagle-Tribune They have taken down their website, which was cited by the ACLU and contained the following gem: that NEMLEC was established in 1963 out of a fear and distrust of civil rights advocates.

Submission + - A new technology for astroturfing (and the same old Union corruption)

sam_handelman writes: New Voice Strategies (N.V.S.) has developed a technology which takes astroturfing to a new level: VIVA Idea Exchange(TM). You give them a message, and they will find you stakeholders whose input, using "proprietary algorithms", will then be molded to reflect your message. The former President of the Mass. Teachers Association (MTA), Paul Toner steered a contract to purchase N.V.S.'s services for the National Education Association (parent of the MTA). Who would have expected, the leaked preliminary N.V.S. NEA report shares action items with the report that Arizona Charter School Association purchased. In comments on the report, the teachers who wrote the N.V.S. NEA disclose that they were pressured, but still wish to pursue their algorithmic appointment as spokesmen, so the technology works to that extent. In other surprising news, Paul Toner, having lost his bid for the NEA board, is now President of N.V.S..

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

sam_handelman 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

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:

and a parent information page


Rusty Foster Isn't Dead 162

While he was vacationing with his wife, Kuro5hin founder Rusty Foster was killed — at least in the eyes of Facebook. NBC News details how it happened: a "pal" pranked both Foster and Facebook by notifying the social site of Foster's supposed death, providing as documentation the obituary of another, much older man by the same name. Getting the Facebook version of his life back took some doing; based on this article it seems much easier to convince Facebook that you're dead than that you're alive.

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

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.


Submission + - The Gates Foundation Engages its Critics (

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."

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

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

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.


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

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."

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