Wednesday, April 29, 2009

NEAP Testing and states

Having a son in 4th grade I think a bit about the quality of education. Blake just had the standardized testing that all 4th graders must endure. The "No Child Left Behind" law has had an impact, but the jury is still out as to whether or not it's going to be a positive one.

This chart shows some interesting results comparing between the NEAP and states ranking of students. Not a good omen for Georgia. The article it was linked from is a bit dated but also not encouraging. I'm hoping not to discover how badly my son was educated 10 years from now.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Banned from Facebook? aka, New Virtual World Order

Gosh! Who'd have ever thought that Libby would be the sort that Facebook would determine was worthy of banishment. In fact, however, this is exactly what has happened. A simple Google search will turn up a number of such events - many of whom had no idea that they were even under a "terms of service" (Like Libby) let alone what those terms actually are.

This brings a thought to my mind. We live in a very very different world. Most of us are used to living in a country where we have rights, legal recourse, and the ability to protest something. Be it ever so minuscule, we have power. On the web, however, this is not the case. We now live in a virtual world where the rules and actions are governed by corporate self-interest, and where you - that single person among millions of other "users" - is of little value to the corporation. They do as they wish to protect whatever they wish to protect.

Less you think I'm whining about some corporate conspiracy think again. I've almost always come down on the side of a business to create a product and attach whatever strings to its use they'd like. Even in situations like this I still tend to lean toward that position. Yet we as people need to understand how tentative our situation is. Should Google decide, your blog will disappear forever and there is nothing that you can do to recover it or your good name. Google/YouTube have banned even the Marvelous James Randi's account with no warning. Fortunately he has the power of his stature in the Skeptical community and resources beyond you and I as individuals. RIAA, YouTube, Google, Yahoo, Microsoft. These are the new House of Representatives and Senate in the new virtual country that we live in. User be warned: The technology and communication channel that you have come to depend on and even earn your living with can disappear in an instant, and there is very little you can do beyond sending an email petitioning the decision...and waiting....and waiting.........and waiting.

You are the gentleman sitting in the lobby with hat in hand nervously waiting to find out if you will be seen today, or need to come back tomorrow and wait...and wait...

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Video on "Open Mindedness"

This video is very well put together and very clearly articulates the difference between truly being open minded (but sentient) and having a mind into which just any idea can fall and sprout into idiocy.

Update: Link to the video producer on YouTube