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The Bill That Could Save College Students $1,200 a Year

Faculty who need to publish for professional reasons can be motivated for reasons other than a royalty check, so this sounds like a good idea. The Affordable College Textbook Act, introduced by Durbin and Franken this month, aims to lower book costs by promoting the use of open-source textbooks. Open books, as defined by the bill, are texts that are “licensed under an open license and made freely available online…

Terrified Obama Trapped Inside Healthcare.gov Website

“Goddammit, I don’t know what to do!” Obama said, banging his hands in frustration against a wall of binary as the entire healthcare.gov mainframe suddenly froze, forcing all previously flowing lines of code to come to a complete standstill. “I can’t fix this! Get me out of this place!” “Please! Just get me out of here!” Obama added as the data grid below his feet shattered into millions of infinitesimal…

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Google Books ruled legal in massive win for fair use (updated)

Update in a legal battle that’s been going on for 8 years. A long-running copyright lawsuit between the Authors’ Guild and Google over its book-scanning project is over, and Google has won on the grounds that its scanning is “fair use.” In other words, the snippets of books that Google shows for free don’t break copyright, and Google doesn’t need the authors’ permission to engage in the scanning and display…

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How Television Covered the Kennedy Assassination – a 1964 TV Guide Article

It was a new, shocking, traumatic thing for Americans — who were used to getting their bad news from kindly gentlemen who filtered it for them and helped them digest the worst bits — to watch reporters, live on air, learning new details and reacting as they happened. First CBS Bulletin (at 10:45 into a soap opera.) Walter Cronkite announces death of JFK. You can hear in the background people…

Robert T. Conrad, Whig mayor of Philadelphia, 1854-1856.
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Rare Philadelphia win – for a Whig!

For the first time in 159 years, Philadelphians have elected a Whig to public office – specifically, putting a member of the Modern Whig Party into a spot as judge of elections in Northeast Philadelphia’s 56th Ward, in the Rhawnhurst section. Robert “Heshy” Bucholz, 39, a software engineer with four children and a fifth on the way, went door to door soliciting support from his neighbors and wound up garnering…

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White House photo access controls public image

Rather than permit photojournalists to shoot in the White House, the Obama administration prefers to issue official pictures taken by its own photographers. News organizations looking to illustrate events of national and global importance usually have no choice but to use the official photos, but the Associate Press says those photos are so staged and crafted that they are really propaganda. The Associated Press, the largest U.S. Wire service, has…

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Taking the Lid Off the McDonald’s Coffee Case

Have you heard the story about the lady who spilled coffee on herself and won millions of dollars from McDonald’s? Have you looked up the details on the story, or do you just know the story as a TV show punch line? Stella became a symbol for frivolous lawsuits and fodder for talk show hosts, late night comedians, sitcom writers, and even political pundits. The headlines, referring to an elderly…

AP reporter’s mistake: Did the punishment fit the crime?

Reporters have been sometimes fired for willful misconduct, such as repeated instances of plagiarism or fabrication. Reporters who’ve suffered that fate, such as the New York Times’ Jayson Blair and The Washington Post’s Janet Cooke, were guilty of gross journalistic malpractice. But firing a reporter over an unintentional mistake is “extremely rare,” said Scott Maier, an associate professor at the University of Oregon who has studied reporting errors. “If everyone…

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An Opt Out Letter That Speaks to All Parents

One household notifies the authorities that their son will no longer be participating in state-mandated high-stakes testing, citing the impact it has on the child. Here is an excerpt from the letter, as published by Education Roundtable. Students – who mature at vastly different paces – should not ever be measured by a mass-produced blunt instrument. I will no longer allow our son to be a part of this mythological…

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Obamacare’s broken website cost more than LinkedIn, Spotify combined

Much of the criticism of Healthcare.gov has come from people who are fundamentally opposed to the idea of a government-mandaded website that manages the individual citizen’s purchase of health insurance from private providers. So, while I have been following with shock and dismay the  horror stories (long waits, incomprehensible error message, unhelpful live chats, unpopulated drop-down lists, etc.), when the critique of the website is used to justify opposition to…