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Submission + - Bing Censoring all Chinese Language Querys ( 2

boggis writes: Nicholas Kristof, a New York Times journalist is calling for a boycott of Microsoft Bing (so don't click that link). They have censored search requests at the request of the Chinese Government (like certain others). The difference is that Bing have censored all searches done anywhere in simplified Chinese characters (The characters used in mainland China). This means that a Chinese speaker searching for Tiananmen anywhere in the world now gets the impression that it is just a lovely place to visit.

Comment I teach Maths and English (Score 1) 677

I teach secondary maths and English is Australia. In English it's common to try to give students an appreciation of the beauty of what you're teaching. I tell them when poetry makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end and which novels still make me cry the third time I read them. Sometimes this gets across to students and they become curious enough to be engaged. I certainly try to get them writing stuff that they are emotionally engaged with.

I have some of the same attitudes to some mathematics. But there are two strong forces against me.

First, the curriculum is crammed with gumpf. There is a small set of mathematical knowledge that I think is important for citizens of a developed democracy to know, stuff around finance and statistical reasoning mostly. But I could probably cover this in one semester in Year 10. And there is a small amount of foundational number knowledge that makes it possible to teach much of the rest of mathematics - times tables, an understanding of place value. Again if this were done carefully it could be done in about a semester - I'd prefer if it were done in primary school. But I have to spend an awful lot of my time teaching other stuff that is not in any sense necessary or useful, coordinate geometry, trigonometry, calculus, volumes of complex shapes, multi-variable algebra etc etc etc. Any one of these would be fun to go into in some depth but the necessity of covering them all means that none of them are covered properly and the connections between different areas of mathematics are totally obscured.

Secondly, my students all come to me with a history of mathematics classes. Mostly, this history teaches them that there is a right answer and they are too stupid to find it. They wait to be told, they attempt to memorise formulae and they lack curiosity about how things work. I make attempts to reverse this but when the rubber hits the road and I need to cover content quickly, I reinforce it despite my best intentions.

If someone wants to found a charter school where I can use Godel Escher Bach as my only maths textbook just tell me where - I'll catch the next plane.

Comment Competition with aliens (Score 1) 473

In fact it's only other humans that we're likely to want to have a war with as a species. You, like me, are into oxygen rich atmospheres and non-saline water and other humans so we have a lot to compete for. A gas giant dweller from Alpha Centauri has nothing I want or could even use beyond information and giving me that doesn't cost him anything.

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