by Mike Masnick
Thu, May 17th 2012 12:40am
by Michael Ho
Tue, Apr 24th 2012 5:00pm
from the urls-we-dig-up dept
- The New York state Education Department recently threw out standardized test questions related to a nonsensical story about talking animals and a sleeveless pineapple. Apparently, a lot of 8th graders were confused about the moral of this story, but the larger lesson might be that standardized tests shouldn't be taken too seriously. [url]
- The headmaster of one of NYC's top private schools (Riverdale) doesn't have a high opinion of standardized IQ tests for admissions. "This push on tests ... is missing out on some serious parts of what it means to be a successful human." [url]
- In Florida, it looks like 5th graders are getting their answers marked wrong even when they're correct. Science is so subjective these days. [url]
- Finnish schools don't administer standardized tests until the last year of high school, but somehow Finnish students seem to do well on the PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) exams. Is there something to be learned from the Finnish school system? [url]
- To discover more interesting education-related content, check out what's currently floating around the StumbleUpon universe. [url]
by Leigh Beadon
Fri, Mar 9th 2012 3:56am
from the true-democracy dept
Reactions to the White House's We the People initiative have been mixed, but it is certainly one small step in the right direction. In Finland, they're taking a giant leap: letting citizens pass complete bills directly to parliament. The Citizen's Initiative Act, which came into effect this month, requires Parliament to process any bill that collects 50,000 signatures from citizens of voting age. Alternatively, citizens can make a proposal for a bill, which will then be examined and potentially drafted by a ministry. To facilitate the process, a volunteer group in Helsinki has created the Avoin ministeriö (Open Ministry) website, an online tool for drafting bills and proposals and gathering signatures.
The Open Ministry is an idea that Joonas Pekkanen came up with last December. Pekkanen, who has been involved in launching Internet-based start-up companies, saw a newspaper article about the citizens’ initiative. He began to recruit volunteer workers for the project from his circle of friends, and the group was formed quickly. The entire operation has started from the grass-roots level. No money from the government or any interest group is involved. Openness and involving everybody in the operation of the ministry has been the central principle behind the activity.
They plan to start small and get people comfortable with the idea, by first targeting a much-maligned dog tax that is effectively un-enforced but still on the books and actually costing the government money. Pekkanen plans to focus on submitting completed bills rather than proposals, saying “the aim is that citizens’ initiatives would have the best possible chances of being passed as laws by Parliament.”
There are similar projects underway in the U.S., but none go quite as far as this. Apparently there is going to be a delay while the Ministry of Justice builds a system for accepting legal digital signatures, but once that is taken care of it will be fascinating to see how this develops, and how responsive the Finnish parliament is to citizen-drafted legislation.
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Jan 9th 2012 10:42am
from the well-look-at-that dept
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Nov 18th 2011 6:38pm
from the alaska? dept
The tension was triggered by a short film that the Finnish Tourist Board posted on its channel on video-sharing platform YouTube, featuring time-lapse footage of the aurora in Finnish Lapland. The film has been viewed almost 400,000 times since September, prompting Norwegians to complain that the Finns are trying to "steal" the northern lights.The idea of ownership over shared things is getting downright ridiculous.
"We can not stand by and watch the Finns try to grab a bigger share" of the northern lights market, said Per-Arne Tuftin of Innovation Norway, a state-owned company that promotes tourism in Norway. "We will not give up -- the northern lights will be ours," he told the Troms&ostrok;-based newspaper Nordlys, whose name translates appropriately as Northern Lights. Back in 2009, Innovation Norway launched a campaign to brand the northern lights as a Norwegian phenomenon.
by Tim Cushing
Wed, Jul 27th 2011 6:07am
from the another-attempt-to-prevent-the-unpreventable dept
...random violence (terrorist or otherwise) is not predictable and not "findable" in advance -- not if a free society is to remain free, anyway.
The problem with attacks like the shooting/bombing in Norway is that they are isolated instances. The shock and horror of the event tends to overwhelm the common sense of politicians, law enforcement and the press itself, leading to unfortunate efforts like these, often combined with commentary from ad hoc armchair quarterbacks whose hindsight is endless but whose foresight is severely restricted.
The civil rights of citizens are trampled underfoot by politicians and law enforcement officials wishing to appear to be doing "something" to make their homelands safer. These "somethings" usually combine rush-job legislation with political theatrics, resulting in a hastily applied veneer of safety that extends the government's reach into the personal lives of its citizens.
We've seen it here in the US via the PATRIOT Act and the corresponding growth of the Department of Homeland Security and the TSA. Once a law gets on the books, it rarely gets removed. There may be discussions about oversight issues or possible detrimental effects, but bad legislation tends to be permanent.
The problem with an effort like Finland's is that there is only one guaranteed outcome to this effort: more internet surveillance. In light of Breivik's known interests, this heightened attention means anyone whose gaming choices include Call of Duty or World of Warcraft could possibly find themselves under surveillance. People with strong opinions on major world religions or political organizations could very well be flagged as possible suspects.
No one truly knows what they're looking for when they implement programs like these, and because of that, nearly anything can be considered "suspect." Even worse, this attack was characterized as pro-Islamic by the media before the information surfaced that Breivik was anti-Islamic. Knowing who's actually the "risky" party isn't always so clear, meaning that anyone can be the risky party. When you combine large amounts of speculation with the tendency of politicians to twist laws into vehicles of self-service, the originally well-meaning legislation soon becomes a weapon against any display of political or religious dissent:
As former FBI agent (and current ACLU policy counsel) Mike German advises, any ideology can become a target of the government if the national security bureaucracy comes to use political opinion or activism as a proxy or precursor for crime and terrorism.
It's very hard for anyone in power to respond to a horrific tragedy by doing nothing, but if the track record of post-terrorist-attack legislation is anything to go by, "nothing" would be a refreshing change.
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Jun 29th 2011 4:30pm
from the alert-the-UN dept
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Apr 26th 2011 3:28am
from the time-for-others-to-ask dept
The CCB said that the removal of OtherOS crippled console features that were present at the time of purchase, and agreed that consumers should be compensated. It recommended that the manufacturer and seller of the console pay €100 jointly to compensate the man.Unfortunately, it appears that the Consumer Complaints Board has no enforcement ability... but that its rulings are frequently used by courts in dealing with disputes. Thus, it seems that Finnish PS3 owners might want to see if they can start some sort of legal action to get their €100 back from Sony for taking away a key feature that was used in marketing the PS3.
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Dec 6th 2010 8:30pm
from the uusi-suomi dept
"This is intolerable, damn it! It is shocking that the Greens think they can demean the name of New Finland without contacting me!"According to Bunnylin, the publisher also said:
"If due reparations are not agreed on, Green voters can vote for the Pirate Party, who think no one should pay for using other people's rights."Of course, it seems that's what it really comes down to: "due reparations." Perhaps the publisher saw an opportunity to try to get some cash out of this. However, it does raise questions about whether or not such a generic and descriptive phrase like "New Finland" can really be trademarked in the first place.
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Jul 1st 2010 2:10am
from the won't-see-three-strikes-there... dept
"We will have a policy where operators will send letters to illegal file-sharers but we are not planning on cutting off access."According to the music industry, of course, this makes the Finnish government radical extremists. How dare they want to make sure everyone has broadband connectivity and the ability to communicate freely. How could that possibly be more important than one industry's increasingly obsolete business model?