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Comment Re:Want to cut down on pointless bachelors degrees (Score 1) 1138

A few comments from the latest entry in my aunt's blog (

What did Obama mean when he said our children need to be better educated? Let us take a look at students around the world. In India, pupils in the elementary grades are learning advanced mathematics by the time they reach the age of nine. They are expected to know a minimum of two languages when the reach middle school, their own and English. Most pupils are able to speak two or three Indian languages as well as English before they reach middle school.

Pupils in China must memorize 5,000 characters before they can read their newspaper and 12,000 characters in order to enter the university. Their ability to memorize is unequaled. This doesn't stop them from studying mathematics at much higher levels in the high schools than we study here.

In Singapore, students will take eight A level exams before they graduate, while in England the populace is happy if their students learn and take two A levels.

When I state some of these figures, people brush it aside, saying that foreign students learn by rote and our children are learning to think critically and analyze.. Yes, that is true. In the early years Asian students do learn by rote. But when they begin analyzing and thinking critically they have a wealth of material to think about critically. They aren't playing catch-up in their teens and their twenties.

Comment Some random thoughts... (Score 1) 980

To the extent that any technical background has been discussed, about whether Apple could allow 3rd party development packages, it's that they question whether the "multi-tasking" in iPhone OS 4.0 could be made to work safely.

From what I've gathered, the "multi-tasking" (beyond the limited number of special server processes) in iPhone OS 4.0 is really more of a fast application switching system, where the os saves and restores data state when stopping and restarting processes. Apple thinks they can safely do this for apps compiled against the Apple 4.0 developers kit. They don't think they can safely do this for any arbitrary code.

If this is correct, Adobe could say "Tell us what information you need, and we'll tell you how to find it for apps compiled using our tool". Apple might then say "If we do this for you, we would have to do this for anybody who wanted to build a 3rd party development kit; that would not be practical".

My question to Apple, if I was Adobe, would be "If our tool built binaries that followed the exact rules of your developers kit, such that iPhone OS 4.0 could not tell the difference between a binary built by us, and a binary built by our software, what would happen?"

Comment General Rule of Thumb (Score 1) 902

Once one government agency has some piece of information, you can never absolutely say that no other government agency will ever see it. Ignoring rule breaking, emergency orders, etc. a general "rule of thumb" about census data is that for a certain time period (roughly the average human lifetime) no individually identifiable information will ever be released. The government can and will release aggregate info about the country as a whole, and about individual regions. After the delay period (currently 72 years?) full census data can be released. These releases are where genealogy websites, such as, get their census data. currently has the full 1930 census. I assume it will get the 1940 census sometime this decade.

Comment Be careful about assuming anything... (Score 1) 2424

There are roadblocks being ignored here; don't necessarily assume that this will go into effect. Everything below comes from newspaper articles last week.

The Democrat's did not use a normal procedure to "pass" the previous Senate bill. They created an entirely separate bill; put text in there to try to fix what they saw as problems in the Senate bill; and then added text saying that by passing this second bill they deemed the first bill as being passed. There were articles from constitutional law professors last week explicitly saying that this procedure is unconstitutional; listing Supreme court cases to back up their viewpoint. You can bet that opponents of that bill saw those articles, and that if there is a signing ceremony to "finally" enact the bill; lawsuits will be filed on this basis within days.

They're hoping to use what's called a reconciliation procedure to pass the second bill in the Senate. The problem is that this new house bill contains explicit points that violate restrictions on the reconciliation procedure. Articles last week said that Senate Democratic leaders expected those points to be brought up and didn't know whether they could be worked around.

And from articles last year. The Senate bill that narrowly passed last December contains language that some say "bought" a few votes; specifically that some states wouldn't have to contribute local taxes to health care. Multiple organizations back then said that they were preparing federal lawsuits saying that that language was unconstitutional; that all states had to be treated equally.

Comment Re:As someone who purchased ... (Score 1) 507

It's not just the many, many separate tax rates in this country. You also have to deal with different reporting systems (you can't just blindly send checks out); different monthly/quarterly/annual reporting systems, some localities may not be interested in checks that are "too small", etc. Amazon of course could do it. If you're an individual that wants to start a business, you have no hope. The only choice would be finding some service to do it for you; raising your prices so that you could pay the extra fees to that business on top of the taxes. What I would do is reverse the argument; e.g. say that a business in state X must pay taxes to that state even if the product is shipped out of state. Then you would know if the mail order company depended on not paying sales taxes; e.g. if the company then moved to a state with no sales tax like Oregon.

Comment "Podcasts" have existed for many decades... (Score 2, Insightful) 150

I'd think you could go back much earlier. Syndicated radio, back in the 1930's, was done by individual radio stations subscribing to a show; e.g. a "podcast". "Downloads" were done by the syndicator making copies of records and mailing them to the subscribers. I see zero difference between that and current podcasts where the "syndicator" puts audio/video files on a computer network so that subscribers can download them.

Comment Re:Holy shit? (Score 1) 950

Depends on the era. I was a high school student in Southern California in the early 1970's. At that time in that school district, PE was a mandantory class, one period a day, 5 days a week; graded like any other class. The coaches (PE teachers) though just treated the class like a farm system for high school athletics. If you potentially any good athletically, you were recruited and got an A or B. If you weren't good at sports; etc. but didn't cause the coach problems, you got a C. The classes just switched every so often from one sport to the next. No special effort was given to monitoring extertion, etc.

Comment Re:What about future authors? (Score 1) 125

To my understanding, if any other organization wanted to spend the money to go through multiple big libraries; scanning every document, and then running those scans through an OCR system, there's nothing in this agreement that would prevent that. Google is just the only organization to have spent the money. I would welcome easier access to "orphan", out of print books.

Comment Re:With Circuit City and CompUSA all but gone... (Score 1) 587

Depends on what area of the country you're in. Some of the old CompUSA stores in (iirc) the southeastern area of the US were purchased by Tiger Direct, along with the CompUSA web site. Unless Tiger Direct starts opening new CompUSA stores though, they're gone as far as the rest of the country is concerned.

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