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August 23, 2011

12 reasons why Arabic is awesome

This is pretty great. Other languages are fascinating. Studying them you realize that there are many, many different ways to organize speech. Some of these ways are asinine, some are amazing. Why Arabic is Terrific
#1. The Root/Pattern System Nearly all Arabic words consist of a three-consonant root slotted into a pattern of vowels and helper consonants. The root gives the word its base meaning, while the pattern modifies this meaning in a systematic and predictable way. This idea is so cool that you'd think it came from a constructed language, and yet Arabic has actual native speakers who live completely normal lives and will not try to talk to you about Runescape. For example, the pattern ma--a-, where the hyphens are placeholders for three root consonants, is nearly always a place name in Arabic. The pattern i-a-a-a generates a verb meaning "to cause someone to do X", where the meaning of X is determined by that three-consonant root. Here are some common patterns using the root k t b, whose basic meaning is 'writing': pattern pattern meaning result m--a-a place name مكتبة maktaba (library) -aa-i- active participle كاتب kaatib (writer) ma--uu- passive participle مكتوب maktuub (written) -a-a-a basic verb كتب kataba (to write) a--a-a causative verb أكتب aktaba (to dictate) -i-aa- noun كتاب kitaab (book) -u-u- plural noun كتب kutub (books) . . .

August 21, 2011

South Dakota cuts down to four school days a week

Hey South Dakota, instead of eliminating 20% of a child's education, how about raising taxes? South Dakota schools cut costs with 4-day week - Yahoo! News
IRENE, S.D. – When the nearly 300 students of the Irene-Wakonda School District returned to school this week, they found a lot of old friends, teachers and familiar routines awaiting them. But one thing was missing: Friday classes. This district in the rolling farmland of southeastern South Dakota is among the latest to adopt a four-day school week as the best option for reducing costs and dealing with state budget cuts to education. "It got down to monetary reasons more than anything else," Superintendent Larry Johnke said. The $50,000 savings will preserve a vocational education program that otherwise would have been scrapped. The four-school week is an increasingly visible example of the impact of state budget problems on rural education. This fall, fully one-fourth of South Dakota's districts will have moved to some form of the abbreviated schedule. Only Colorado and Wyoming have a larger proportion of schools using a shortened week. According to one study, more than 120 school districts in 20 states, most in the west, now use four-day weeks. The schools insist that reducing class time is better than the alternatives and can be done without sacrificing academic performance. Yet not all parents are convinced. "The kids are going to suffer," said Melissa Oien, who has four children in the school and serves as vice president of the parent-teacher organization. "Of course they will. They're missing a whole day of school." . . . South Dakota's Republican-controlled Legislature slashed aid to schools this spring by 6.6 percent to help close a $127 million budget gap. Republican Gov. Dennis Daugaard said state revenue has not grown in three years while costs have risen for medical services for the poor.

August 20, 2011

Recommended Reading: Zero HIstory by William Gibson

As an undergrad I once got in an argument in...

Continue reading "Recommended Reading: Zero HIstory by William Gibson" »

August 19, 2011

Presidential candidate Rick Perry admits they teach Creationism in Texas public schools, which is illegal

Perry Says Texas Public Schools Teach Creationism... Which May Be In Violation Of The Constitution | TPMDC
. . . Perry described evolution as "a theory that is out there," telling a young child questioning him that "it's got some gaps in it." That's why, he said, "in Texas we teach both creationism and evolution in our public schools. Because I figure...because I figure you're smart enough to figure out which one is right." There's just one problem with that: in 1987 the Supreme Court ruled that teaching creationism in public schools is an unconstitutional violation of the Establishment Clause. The decision in Edwards vs. Aguillard helped inspire the Intelligent Design movement. In the 7-2 decision, the majority opinion contained a caveats: "We do not imply that a legislature could never require that scientific critiques of prevailing scientific theories be taught [and] teaching a variety of scientific theories about the origins of humankind to schoolchildren might be validly done with the clear secular intent of enhancing the effectiveness of science instruction." . . .

August 16, 2011

William Gibson's PATTERN RECOGNITION is now a BBC radio play

You can listen here. BBC - BBC Radio 4 Extra Programmes - Pattern Recognition, Episode 1