Archive for the ‘advocacy’ Category
“Such thoughts are like burrs stuck to my pant leg, prickling me once every few strides,” he wrote. “It’s not until I get out onto the open prairie, or into canyon country, or under a ceiling of stars that I’m finally able to shake them off. There is a wild joy that swells in my chest. Every day there is a new trial. There’s something new to learn; something new to see with every step, every turn, every drop into a canyon labyrinth. It’s an infusion of newness. And when immersed in this constant newness — when every step is exploratory, every interaction, novel, and every day completely different from the previous — it’s hard to think of going back again to the dullness of the normal, the expected, the planned.”
[This is why Noah is so happy when we hike. A constant infusion of newness.]
Source: Half Past Done
The idea is this — Google or Microsoft or Apple — create a new app that runs on the desktop that’s designed with the parameters of a smartphone. Leverage the skills I already have. I was able to set up the Windows Phone in a few minutes, on an OS that I had never used. I am a relatively expert Mac user, but failed after a half hour. The lesson is pretty clear. At the very least the desktop has to do what the mobile device does, with the same care of design and simplicity. What I’m left with is a hodgepodge of stuff that wasn’t designed to do this. Time for a fresh look.
[Often people confuse simplicity with lack of powerful features. Even more often people fail to realize that simplicity is possibly the most powerful feature of all. I think this is the direction the industry is recognizing, but so far is far from nailing it.]
Source: Scripting News
For quite a while I’ve had something that I’ve wanted to say, or talk about somehow. I have touched on it in the past but never really taken it head on.
You would all do me an amazing service if you would entertain the notion that the fight metaphor may not be the most helpful one. Or maybe it’s not as helpful now as it was in earlier stages. It’s difficult to change the language around something when it is so engrained. “Fighting cancer..” “died after a long battle with cancer..” etc. But this implies that there are winners and losers. That if we die we have lost. But we ALL die. No one makes it out alive. That shouldn’t make us all losers. The most pernicious part of the fight metaphor for me is the notion that if someone dies young from cancer they simply didn’t fight hard enough. That if someone decides to forgo treatment, they have “thrown in the towel.”
I don’t see any grace in the desperate clinging to life that we call fighting in this metaphor.
[A bunch of years ago I was looking for some nice fenders and stumbled across Ezra. And the small bit of his life shared through his blog has been inspiring and enlightening. He continues to inspire and inform. So much energy has been poured into his survival. Ezra: "Don’t get me wrong. I’m a fighter all right. I have been from the start. Walking around barefoot with fists cocked. But this isn’t a fight. I do want to live. I’m not nearly done eating up stuff yet. I’m just starting to get good!". Earlier this week a local mom received a stage 3 brain cancer diagnosis. 5 kids, from teenage to littlest. A lovely family. I'm gonna go cry for a few minutes, and then get back to it.]
More bear than tiger, Finland scorns almost all standardized testing before age 16 and discourages homework, and it is seen as a violation of children’s right to be children for them to start school any sooner than 7, Dr. Sahlberg said during his day at Dwight. He spoke to seniors taking a “Theory of Knowledge” class, then met with administrators and faculty members.
“The first six years of education are not about academic success,” he said. “We don’t measure children at all. It’s about being ready to learn and finding your passion.”
He emphasized that Finland’s success is one of basic education, from age 7 until 16, at which point 95 percent of the country goes on to vocational or academic high schools. “The primary aim of education is to serve as an equalizing instrument for society,” he said.
Dr. Sahlberg said another reason the system had succeeded was that “only dead fish follow the stream” — a Finnish expression.
Finland is going against the tide of the “global education reform movement,” which is based on core subjects, competition, standardization, test-based accountability, control.
[Sounds right to me.]
This outrage points to the necessity for more than a simple revision in upper-end tax rates, though that’s the place to start. I support President Obama’s proposal to eliminate the Bush tax cuts for high-income taxpayers. However, I prefer a cutoff point somewhat above $250,000 — maybe $500,000 or so.
Additionally, we need Congress, right now, to enact a minimum tax on high incomes. I would suggest 30 percent of taxable income between $1 million and $10 million, and 35 percent on amounts above that. A plain and simple rule like that will block the efforts of lobbyists, lawyers and contribution-hungry legislators to keep the ultrarich paying rates well below those incurred by people with income just a tiny fraction of ours. Only a minimum tax on very high incomes will prevent the stated tax rate from being eviscerated by these warriors for the wealthy.
Above all, we should not postpone these changes in the name of “reforming” the tax code. True, changes are badly needed. We need to get rid of arrangements like “carried interest” that enable income from labor to be magically converted into capital gains. And it’s sickening that a Cayman Islands mail drop can be central to tax maneuvering by wealthy individuals and corporations.
But the reform of such complexities should not promote delay in our correcting simple and expensive inequities. We can’t let those who want to protect the privileged get away with insisting that we do nothing until we can do everything.
[I agree with everything he said in this piece.]
Essentially, the eBook problem comes down to: you, the publisher, want me to buy everyone a brand new copy of the book. I’m happy to do that, but you want £9.99 per copy. We’re more used to paying £9.99 and giving it to 10 children over the course of years. Make your eBook £1 per copy and we can talk.
On the other hand, I’ll buy 30 copies at £9.99 but I need to be able to reallocate those books next year.
Is there a way to square this circle? Maybe.
Whispercast, like the iTunes Store, requires that each Kindle have a separate Amazon account associated with it. Unlike the iTunes Store, Whispercast can bulk-create these accounts for you, which is handy.
Perhaps the model is this: create 20 generic “First Grade” accounts (e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org through email@example.com) and buy 20 copies of the First Grade reading list. Have the students use that account for a year. When they move on, give the account and password to the next set of pupils coming in.
This is harder to do in the Apple world because the use of AppleID/iCloud is so pervasive across the system. With the Kindle system (at least on the e-Ink Kindles, if not the Fire), it would potentially be easier as there’s less actual data being stored in the user’s account. The pupil logging into the account the next year would – I presume – find the last owner’s book locations, highlights and notes in there but that’s hardly different to the common experience of getting someone else’s used textbook.
Such a deployment model might work in primary education – where everyone is in the same class, likely reading the same class novel at the same time. It doesn’t really work for secondary education unless you buy all the books for every account because the pupil using the account next year is unlikely to be taking the same mix of classes as the last pupil.
I don’t know whether Apple or Amazon is going to get this right first but the company who finally cracks it stands to win a lot of business the education market.
[Yet another mess to fix.]
Source: Fraser Speirs
Luo Baogen and his wife refuse to leave their home in Wenling, Zhejiang, China because they believe that the relocation compensation offered by the government is not enough money for them to rebuild.
Source: Design You Trust[I wouldn't want to live there, but I give them credit for not giving in. I also give folks credit for building the road anyway, although I think they could have done a prettier, safer job of it. Just because you're stubborn doesn't mean you can't find an answer.]
Last thing: Farming is very hard work. I don’t make a lot of money doing it, and people do not support what you are doing. I live out in the country. As new folks move in, they complain about the name of your farm, smells, mooing cows, bleating sheep and crowing roosters, even though these things were there before they built a million-dollar house and moved in. I do not plan on farming in the future.
If you want sustainable, wholesome, pasture-raised organic, hormone- and antibiotic-free food, you have to support it. You can not get these things by talking about it and not paying for it.
The next time you shop at a farmers market, think about what it cost me to grow it. Don’t ask me to take less and then tell me you can get it cheaper at a big-box store. I know you can — but it will not be as fresh or as good as what I have, and you won’t make me cry.
[Well that's as straight up as any discussion on this topic is going to get.]
If a government has anything close to a ‘sacred’ duty, it is the duty of caring for the men and women who went away whole, and came back less than whole, because that government wasn’t wise or smart enough to solve their problems better.
[A favorite high school teacher used to quote Asimov to me "Violence … is the last refuge of the incompetent." And if war is the ultimate national violence, then it explains why the above rings so true.]
I would rate Obama worse than Bush on every relevant subject other than torture (he did prohibit torture, at least officially, though he is just as bad, maybe worse on applying the rule of law in cases of torture), for two reasons. First, because his support for those policies all but eliminated even the mild objections to the growing national surveillance state among Democrats. The civil liberties groups — the ACLU, the Center for Constitutional Rights, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, etc. — have remained admirably consistent, as have fringe members of Congress like Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul, but the rank and file in Congress quickly lost any appetite for trying to limit the damage when Obama took office (and Democratic leaders in Congress like Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and Dianne Feinstein were complicit in the demise of civil liberties from the start). With Bush in office, there was at least some tacit resistance, though never enough to stop the onward march of executive power; with Obama in office, there is a clear bipartisan consensus against the Bill of Rights.
Second, because Obama knows better. As a constitutional scholar, something Bush could barely pronounce, he knows the damage he is doing. He knew that the FISA amendments were extremely corrosive to the rule of law and the cause of justice when he threatened to filibuster the bill if it included telecom immunity; he threw principle under the bus when he instead voted for the bill without protest. He knew that the use of the State Secrets Privilege to deny the victims of torture and illegal surveillance made the separation of powers all but obsolete and ended the rule of law when it comes to executive power because he said so himself repeatedly when Bush was asserting it. Since taking office, he has done the very thing he criticized in every single legal challenge to what is now his own essentially limitless authority.
[As I've been saying all along. The Dems are as bad as the Repubs, they only *think* they don't stink as much. My position remains that both major parties need significant opposition. Or as as Howard Rappaport said "lt ain't unicorns farting rainbows, folks."]