Greg Costikyan sez,
inBloom, a Gates-funded non-profit to harness data to improve grade school education, has partnered with New York and eight other states to encourage the development of apps to "further education" by using intimate data about students, without parental consent and with no ability for parents to opt out.
Among the data shared are name, address, phone numbers, test scores, grades, economic status, test scores, disciplinary records, picture, email, race, developmental delay... just about everything conceivable, and all specific, none of it anonymized. inBloom has arrangements with nine states (New York, Massachusetts, Louisiana, Colorado, Illinois, North Carolina, Georgia, Delaware and Kentucky) to do this.
The XML schema used are downloadable here. Anyone can register as a developer and start using "sample" data, but "real" data is supposedly only available to developers with contracts with a school board. But this includes for-profit, third party developers, such as, say, Amplify, a News Corp subsidiary with a contract with New York. And it doesn't appear there are any constraints on their use of this data. Ed: apparently constraints can be imposed by districts and states, though the system can allow unconstrained access if the district/state chooses.
Here's a puzzle you can make, in which you have to balance 14 nails on a single nail head. (Thanks, Matthew!) Read the rest
Here's a rather graphic representation of the growth in income inequality in the USA since the 1960s; plotted on a chart where the income growth of the bottom 90 percent is represented by an inch-high bar; the growth of the top 10 percent needs a 163 foot-tall bar; while the top 0.01% need a 4.9 mile-high bar to represent their real wealth growth in the same period.
The income growth and shrinkage figures come from analysis of the latest IRS data by economists Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty, who have won acclaim for their studies of worldwide income patterns over the last century.
In 2011 entry into the top 10 percent, where all the gains took place, required an adjusted gross income of at least $110,651. The top 1 percent started at $366,623.
The top 1 percent enjoyed 81 percent of all the increased income since 2009. Just over half of the gains went to the top one-tenth of 1 percent, and 39 percent of the gains went to the top 1 percent of the top 1 percent.
Ponder that last fact for a moment -- the top 1 percent of the top 1 percent, those making at least $7.97 million in 2011, enjoyed 39 percent of all the income gains in America. In a nation of 158.4 million households, just 15,837 of them received 39 cents out of every dollar of increased income.
Jennifer Pawluck, a 20 year old woman from Montreal, was taken into police custody yesterday and questioned after she posted a photo of a graffiti mural on her Instagram. The mural showed a caricature of a Montreal police spokesman called Cmdr. Ian Lafrenière, with a bullet hole in his head.
After she posted the image to Instagram, police came to her house and took her in for questioning, releasing her several hours later. The police say that there are secret reasons they detained her, beyond taking a picture of graffiti and posting it, but they won't say what they are.
Pawluck participated in the mass student demonstrations in Montreal and was part of the ensuing mass arrests. She will have to appear in court on April 17, and is barred from going with a kilometer of police HQ and from communicating with Cmdr Lafrenière. She has not been charged.
Lafrenière is the head of the service's communications division and frequently appeared in the media during the student protests.
Pawluck said that when the picture was taken, she didn’t know who Lafrenière was, but she found the image interesting.
Montreal police confirmed that a young woman was arrested at her home Wednesday and brought to the police station to be questioned by investigators. They did not name Pawluck.
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Roger Ebert, the legendary film critic, died today, his long-time employer, The Chicago Sun-Times is reporting. Ebert had been wrestling with cancer for years. He had lost his voice and his jaw, but he still kept up an unrelenting pace, reviewing more than 200 movies a year for the paper. On his blog and on twitter, he chronicled his struggle with cancer and just two days ago, he penned a post saying he was taking a "leave of presence."
A collection of evidence suggesting that the people who take stock photographs have absolutely no idea what the process of science looks like, beyond a vague understanding that it probably involves white coats (and also beakers full of liquid). Read the rest
Joel Spolsky's editorial on patent trolls is fabulous. As he points out, the developers who pay relatively small sums to make patent trolls just go away are part of the problem, and complicit in the next round of extortion. Paying mobsters keeps them viable, and able to attack new victims:
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In the face of organized crime, civilized people don’t pay up. When you pay up, you’re funding the criminals, which makes you complicit in their next attacks. I know, you’re just trying to write a little app for the iPhone with in-app purchases, and you didn’t ask for this fight to be yours, but if you pay the trolls, giving them money and comfort to go after the next round of indie developers, you’re not just being “pragmatic,” you have actually gone over to the dark side. Sorry. Life is a bit hard sometimes, and sometimes you have to step up and fight fights that you never signed up for.
Civilized people don’t pay up. They band together, and fight, and eliminate the problem. The EFF is launching a major initiative to reform the patent system. At Stack Exchange, we’re trying to help with Ask Patents, which will hopefully block a few bad patents before they get issued.
The Application Developers Alliance (of which I am currently serving as the chairman of the board) is also getting involved with a series of Developer Patent Summits, a nationwide tour of 15 cities, which will kick off a long term program to band together to fight patent trolls.