Fertility and Farming are not larger issues to the human race? (See my post above about the usefulness of apps.) My point is that just because what people are currently doing is not what we traditionally think of as R&D problem-solving, does not mean that it is not serving the same purpose. Tyson seems to be missing this point entirely. For good examples of how this works in gaming, check out this TED talk by Jane McGonigal - http://www.ted.com/talks/jane_mcgonigal_gaming_can_make_a_better_world?language=en
He's missing the mark entirely by dismissing apps as being unimportant to solving problems. Apps (and their assorted physical tie-ins) are changing how we live our lives as humans. From the apps that tell farmers in Africa when to plant crops to the period tracker that helps couples improve their chance at fertility, we are seeing improvements in our daily lives on a global scale from apps. Yes, there is a lot of trash out there just made to raise money. But it is inconsequential to the myriad of changes in the way people live, work, and interact, that apps have made.
The term you are looking for to properly describe the U.S.A. is democratic republic, which is what the founders intended (not trusting in the mob rule of a full democracy). Unfortunately, it has become an oligarchy.
They cannot prosecute a professor for threatening his students in such an obviously joking manner, because every teacher of any sort as done it and is not going to stop. You just have to teach one class to know why. The "adorable little things" quote is so accurate - even when dealing with adult students. The glow you get when they get it right is the high that keeps you in teaching, the dumb expressions when they are deliberately obtuse makes you want to smack some sense into them. This is a universal.
Why am I not surprised to see Chris Koster from Missouri on this list? When it comes to trying to make or change laws in a way that takes the most freedom from the people, there is usually a Missouri politian involved. If the law involves a fundamental misunderstanding of how the internet works (intentional or not) then it doubles the chance.
I seem to remember a time when U.S. news agencies reported on events that had actually happened. You had to go to campaign advertisements to get to this level of what-if. Or maybe I'm just remembering it poorly through the filter of childhood.
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