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Submission + - Zuckerberg and Gates-Backed Startup Seeks to Shake Up African Education 1

theodp writes: The WSJ reports an army of teachers wielding Nook tablets and backed by investors including Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg is on a mission to bring cheap [$6.50/month], internet-based, private education to millions of the world's poorest children in Africa and Asia. In Kenya, 126,000 students are enrolled at 400+ Bridge International Academies that have sprung up across the country since the company was founded in 2009. Bridge’s founders are challenging the long-held assumption that governments rather than companies should lead mass education programs. The Nook tablets are used to deliver lesson plans used by teachers (aka "scripted instruction"), as well as to collect test results from students to monitor their progress.

Submission + - $56,000 Speeding Ticket Issued Under Finland's System of Fines Based on Income

HughPickens.com writes: Joe Pinsker writes at The Atlantic that Finish businessman Reima Kuisla was recently caught going 65 miles per hour in a 50 zone in his home country and ended up paying a fine of $56,000. The fine was so extreme because in Finland, some traffic fines, as well as fines for shoplifting and violating securities-exchange laws, are assessed based on earnings—and Kuisla's declared income was €6.5 million per year. Several years ago another executive was fined the equivalent of $103,000 for going 45 in a 30 zone on his motorcycle. Finland’s system for calculating fines is relatively simple: It starts with an estimate of the amount of spending money a Finn has for one day, and then divides that by two—the resulting number is considered a reasonable amount of spending money to deprive the offender of. Then, based on the severity of the crime, the system has rules for how many days the offender must go without that money. Going about 15 mph over the speed limit gets you a multiplier of 12 days, and going 25 mph over carries a 22-day multiplier. Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Austria, France, and Switzerland also have some sliding-scale fines, or “day-fines,” in place, but in America, flat-rate fines are the norm. Since the late 80s, when day-fines were first seriously tested in the U.S., they have remained unusual and even exotic.

Should such a system be used in the United States? After all, wealthier people have been shown to drive more recklessly than those who make less money. For example Steve Jobs was known to park in handicapped spots and drive around without license plates. But more importantly, day-fines could introduce some fairness to a legal system that many have convincingly shown to be biased against the poor. Last week, the Department of Justice released a comprehensive report on how fines have been doled out in Ferguson, Missouri. "Ferguson’s law enforcement practices are shaped by the City’s focus on revenue rather than by public safety needs," it concluded. The first day-fine ever in the U.S. was given in 1988, and about 70 percent of Staten Island’s fines in the following year were day-fines. A similar program was started in Milwaukee, and a few other cities implemented the day-fine idea and according to Judith Greene, who founded Justice Strategies, a nonprofit research organization, all of these initiatives were effective in making the justice system fairer for poor people. “When considering a proportion of their income,people are at least constantly risk-averse. This means that the worst that would happen is that the deterrent effect of fines would be the same across wealth or income levels,” says Casey Mulligan. "We should start small—say, only speeding tickets—and see what happens."

Submission + - There is no "Proper English" (wsj.com)

Pikoro writes: A recent article in the NY Times shows the argument for why there is no longer a "Proper" english.

Itâ(TM)s a perpetual lament: The purity of the English language is under assault. These days we are told that our ever-texting teenagers canâ(TM)t express themselves in grammatical sentences. The media delight in publicizing ostensibly incorrect usage. A few weeks ago, pundits and columnists lauded a Wikipedia editor in San Jose, Calif., who had rooted out and changed no fewer than 47,000 instances where contributors to the online encyclopedia had written âoecomprised ofâ rather than âoecomposed of.â

Scholarly linguists, Instead of having some rule book of what is âoecorrectâ usage, instead examine the evidence of how native and fluent nonnative speakers do in fact use the language. Whatever is in general use in a language (not any use, but general use) is for that reason grammatically correct.

Comment Re:Yeah, right. (Score 5, Funny) 361

I'm not exactly contributing to the topic at hand, but felt compelled to give a source for your story. It's a reddit post from earlier this year. Here is the relevant portion:

I was once on a US military ship, having breakfast in the wardroom (officers lounge) when the Operations Officer (OPS) walks in. This guy was the definition of NOT a morning person; he's still half asleep, bleary eyed... basically a zombie with a bagel. He sits down across from me to eat his bagel and is just barely conscious. My back is to the outboard side of the ship, and the morning sun is blazing in one of the portholes putting a big bright-ass circle of light right on his barely conscious face. He's squinting and chewing and basically just remembering how to be alive for today. It's painful to watch.

But then zombie-OPS stops chewing, slowly picks up the phone, and dials the bridge. In his well-known I'm-still-totally-asleep voice, he says "heeeey. It's OPS. Could you... shift our barpat... yeah, one six five. Thanks." And puts the phone down. And then he just sits there. Squinting. Waiting.

And then, ever so slowly, I realize that that big blazing spot of sun has begun to slide off the zombie's face and onto the wall behind him. After a moment it clears his face and he blinks slowly a few times and the brilliant beauty of what I've just witnessed begins to overwhelm me. By ordering the bridge to adjust the ship's back-and-forth patrol by about 15 degrees, he's changed our course just enough to reposition the sun off of his face. He's literally just redirected thousands of tons of steel and hundreds of people so that he could get the sun out of his eyes while he eats his bagel. I am in awe.

Cue downmods and comments of "Slashdot has literally become reddit."

Comment "Poor People"? (Score 1) 201

Who are these people? What is so poor about them?

Are they in poor condition? Did they perform poorly in school? Are they pitiable in the sense of being a poor, poor person? Are they generally inferior to other people, who are superior people?
Or maybe the titles is referring to Kenyan laborers who earn less than $2 a day and live in corrugated-steel shanties in one of the more impoverished districts of Nairobi which only gained access to electricity two years ago.

Maybe not. In any case, I prefer to imagine myself not being one of these "poor" people. Sounds rotten.

Comment Re:Carmack fully supports the move (Score 4, Insightful) 300

Carmack appreciates impressive technologies when he sees them and has always humbly voiced his support for them. Back in the dark ages he called Ken Silverman, the developer of Duke3D's Build engine -- the supposedly direct competitor of Quake at one point -- the most talented graphics programmers that he knew besides himself. He had similar praise of Oculus VR before he joined the crew.

No, he's isn't a saint in any benevolent sense, but when it comes to commentary on developing technologies, I tend to trust him -- personal disdain for Facebook's sociocommercial business model aside.

Also, Carmack's next Twitter post directly communicates that he's been avoiding creating a Facebook profile up until this point. So perhaps his admiration of the company on a social level is not as strong as his respect for them on a technological infrastructural level.

Comment So? (Score 0) 300

Brusk and Gifted Independent Developer who Stuck Gold voices his frustration with a major commercial acquisition that the whole tech-concerned internet is on its toes over.

Brusk and Gifted Independent Developer who Stuck Oil tells Oculus that they won't be getting Minecraft for Christmas this year because they made a naughty capitalist decision which advances the looming surveillance state of developed nations.

Brusk and Gifted Independent Developer who Discovered Atlantis is known for having strong and pessimistic views of the game industry which -- surprise! -- strongly favor grassroots development.

I don't see how the complaints of Brusk and Gifted Independent Developer who Developed Minecraft and then Passed it on to an Equally Gifted Development Team add anything more to the Oculus conversation than the thoughts of any other half-informed follower of recently-emerging VR technologies.

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