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GOCE Satellite Burned Up Over Falkland Islands

SmarterThanMe British? (107 comments)

...There are some Argentinians who would like to have a word with you, Unknown Lamer. ;)

about 9 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Suitable Phone For a 4-Year Old?

SmarterThanMe Do not get your 4yo a phone (682 comments)

I'm going to assume that this isn't just a troll post. It is a pretty freaking ignorant question.

Wearing every single one of my hats (teacher, parent, part-time academic in linguistics (and, in particular, child language acquisition), techie, etc.), I'm going to claims some authority when I say this: DO NOT GET YOUR 4YO A PHONE. Mostly I'm adding to the chorus above, so I'm not going to bother rehashing the reasons against that everyone has already given, but I will add a couple more in dot points:

@ We have enough problems with the social reliance on phones in adulthood, but in early adolescence it's a disaster, let alone infancy. For adolescents, phones bring with it all sorts of problems like increased risk of cyber-bullying, exposure to age-inappropriate content, and problems with Google/Apple sponsored apps^h^h^h^hscams. There is no good way to stop this for teenagers, so how are you planning to stop it for a toddler?

@ Remote parenting does not work, and fairly consistently causes problems - you know all those parents whose Dads were at work until late at night? How did they turn out?

@ There is no type of "play" involving a phone that isn't better done by a kid, physically, in the real world. A block sorting game on a phone? Brilliant, why not do it in real life?

about a year ago
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Hanford Nuclear Waste Vitrification Plant "Too Dangerous"

SmarterThanMe Re:Greed (292 comments)

Just as an aside, it's interesting that you refer to Copper as a "rare earth"...

about a year ago
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Scary Toothbrush Prompts Shutdown of World's Busiest Airport

SmarterThanMe What sort of idiot... (284 comments)

What sort of idiot bombmaker would make a bomb that vibrated, ticked or had a big freaking waste of money LED showing a countdown? It's right up there with literally having a red wire and a blue wire. The extension of this, then, is what sort of idiot "airport official" closes an airport because he saw something vibrate?

about a year and a half ago
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Why Girls Do Better At School

SmarterThanMe Re:Feminization of US schools (690 comments)

You know what I find funny? Choices on reading material for students (particularly in middle school), which overwhelmingly favour girls' preferences in reading (i.e., more contemporary, more female main characters and so on). I prefer to get my students to work on books that in which they individually have an interest, rather than working on books that I like.

about a year and a half ago
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Why Girls Do Better At School

SmarterThanMe Why do girls have a better attitude? (690 comments)

I think we need to ask why girls have a better attitude towards learning. Speaking as a teacher, I think that I can suggest a couple of factors and examples of why this is an important question.

TLDR: schools and schooling is overwhelmingly female oriented, and does not adapt to the needs of boys (nor anyone, really).

Schools, particularly primary (elementary for my American friends) schools are female dominated and, unfortunately, this leads to problems for boys. I taught in a school recently where I was the only male teacher at the school where there were some issues for boys. Whether there was a causative relationship or not is open to question, but the boys at the school were wild, and their achievement was substantially lower than the girls on several measures. I (simply because I was a male) was seen as the solution to an ongoing behavioural crisis among the boys in the older grades because I was seen as a role model as a boy who was interested in learning, but I think that by middle school, where I teach, it's too late for that to have much effect.

In fact, against the more influential male public role models who seem to be more interested in sport, driving, etc., than anything school-related, my effect would have been minimal (and I argued this point prior to my appointment, and my position was confirmed time after time through my appointment - in fact that failing was attributed to me which was fun). I have seen at other schools attempt to conflate an interest in sport with an interest in school by involving local sports people in reading programs at the school. The sports people come in to the school and inadvertently confirm students' beliefs, that sport and reading do not mix much. But it's a fun novelty, I suppose.

The other problem with female dominated schools is that the curriculum becomes more female dominated. At least in my experience, boys do have shorter attention spans, and do seem to have more kinaesthetic or visual approaches to learning (against girls, who more often seem to have auditory learning styles more suited to the "stand-and-deliver" lecture approach to teaching). Teaching in a single sex boys' class requires shorter lessons with more emphasis on doing stuff than discussing stuff, and this doesn't suit the approaches that a lot of teachers want to use.

Finally, there's a belief that boys are bad, whether this is explicitly stated or not, and, equally, that we should be easier on "boys being boys". In my work, I visited a school and sat through a presentation given by Year 1 students on school rules. Which was hilarious for a whole bunch of reasons, but most notably in the way that the activity seems to have been presented to the students. They were providing examples of good and bad behaviour. The teacher had chosen to tell the students to make a girl doing something good, and a boy doing something bad. The students then got up and use male pronouns for describing one scenario (where a student does something wrong) and female pronouns for describing the other (when a student does something right). The teacher corrected a student (a girl actually) twice when she said that she had drawn a girl doing something wrong, which had me on the verge of heckling the stupid woman.

As to being soft on "boys being boys", I believe strongly that we need to instil a sense of honour among boys. I had a Year 6 student a couple of years ago who incessantly physically and verbally bullied younger students and girls in the playground. I constantly brought him up on it, but was always held back from applying the school's discipline policy because "he doesn't have any great male role models", "you know his parents are really strict", or "he's just a bit energetic". The worst excuse that I heard from a colleague was that a girl he had bullied had to "share part of the blame" because she "instigated" the situation by talking to him (it's like a "she asked it by dressing that way" defence in rape cases). Over and over excuses were made for him by other staff such that he got away with things that would probably result in severe measures (like separation from other students, or meetings with parents or behavioural plans) being enacted. In fact, generally, the approach to dealing with boys at that particular school was to accomodate them rather than guide them. This meant that there were parts of the playground which were considered practically lawless by students and teachers. On the other hand, the principal strictly enforced rules for girls as petty as sock colour and the wearing of ribbons and even gave a stern talking to two Year 5 girls in my class for being best friends (because it's apparently exclusionary, even though they self-excluded themselves from other students also). I'm all for understanding students' wants and interests in our teaching, but boys sometimes do things which are stupid and they need to be pulled up for it, just as we apparently have no trouble in doing with the girls. If this is the case in regards to behavioural management, how can we expect boys to be engaged in the classroom?

It's important for me to note that I'm not saying that girls have it easy through school: they don't, particularly in later schooling, and particularly because of the social structures that we (teachers) set up in our classes and schools. But our approaches to teaching have to be modified to suit the needs of learners and I'm not convinced that we're doing it. Part of the reason is that schooling and learning is, unfortunately, seen as inherently a female pursuit. I also agree with the authors quoted at the UGA article that this is not a problem that has recently come up, but has always been there.

about a year and a half ago
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Ask Slashdot: What Was Your Favorite Web Comic of 2012?

SmarterThanMe My Nominations and Choices (321 comments)

1) Best overall web comic series of 2012. (Any web comic that produced content in 2012): Gunnerkrigg Court is a brilliant webcomic that has a compelling plot, interesting characters and art that has developed superbly since the comic's beginnings.

2) Funniest web comic of 2012. (This one represents the single funniest comic of any web comic series.): Evil Inc. got the most laughs out of me this year, even if a lot of the humour was a bit Dad-joke-ish. Runners up would include: Penny Arcade , XKCD , Scandinavia and the World and Overcompensating .

3) Best art in a web comic of 2012. (Web comic from 2012 with the most amazing art ever): Dresden Codak is, without any doubt, the repository of some of the most geekiest and beautiful artwork the web has ever seen. Runners up would include: Namesake , Lackadaisy Cats , Sore Thumbs and Avengelyne

4) Web comic that was most relevant to you in 2012: Real Life , because his adventures with Harper are roughly mirroring my adventures with my daughter Hailey.

Honorable Mentions (because they'd likely win categories if there were a couple more here): Bad Machinery (Best Story), Eerie Cuties (Best Black & White), Three Panel Soul (Best Drama) and Wapsi Square (Best Main Character), and Sinfest (Lifetime Achievement) among others.

about a year and a half ago
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Tolkien Estate Sues Over Lord of the Rings Slot Machines

SmarterThanMe Re:Good (211 comments)

Regardless of the effects on the individual, one must consider the ramifications on the larger scale. On the family level, there's strain on people who are not involved in the actual gambling (i.e., partners and children of affected individuals). Then there's the social level where gambling leads to increased social costs because of crime and mental health ramifications.

It's like smoking. Second-hand smoke has been shown to affect children and others in an environment as much if not more than the actual person who is "exercising" his/her rights to smoke. Further, my taxes pay for smokers to get treatment for diseases that they should not have. Is that fair? No.

about 2 years ago
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Tolkien Estate Sues Over Lord of the Rings Slot Machines

SmarterThanMe Re:Good (211 comments)

Yeah, great. But the problem then is that those people are the ones who end up either offing themselves, mugging people at train stations, or sending their families (you know, the partner and 2.3 kids who weren't gambling) bankrupt as well. Yay social Darwinism!

about 2 years ago
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Tolkien Estate Sues Over Lord of the Rings Slot Machines

SmarterThanMe Good (211 comments)

Poker machines are morally disgusting. They're basically a way of imposing a tax on people too stupid or hopeful to know better. Here in Australia, there's people who literally bankrupt themselves pouring money into the bloody things. I'm all for individual responsibility, but those bloody things are designed to addict more than cigarettes or crack cocaine.

What's more, venues that have poker machines deliberately target the poor. I've walked into a couple of poker machine venues, they are literally the embodiment of everything that is wrong with modern day society. Pensioners, disabled people, smoking heavily and desperate for, if nothing else, just a near-win.

about 2 years ago
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Best reader-submitted /. logo of October 2012?

SmarterThanMe Jack Thompson (137 comments)

+1 vote.

about 2 years ago
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Australian Billionaire Plans To Build Titanic II

SmarterThanMe Re:Go Ballmer! (289 comments)

Yes, this is an interesting issue. As I recall the titanic was originally designed for Extreme separation of the classes, it would almost be physically impossible for steerage class and first class to ever see each other.

This strikes me as something to which Palmer wouldn't particularly object. He's not exactly known for his philanthropy or his interest in his common man.

more than 2 years ago
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Teacher Suspended For Reading Ender's Game To Students

SmarterThanMe As a Teacher... (1054 comments)

I can't say that this situation is all that unusual. Parents, particularly parents who are stay-at-home, have way too much time on their hands and involve themselves up to their armpits in the lives of their children. I have worked at schools where parents arrive at the schoolgrounds at lunchtime, and hang around on campus until the end of the day. For several weeks, parents lined up against the windows of one of the classrooms and stared at their children in class for the hour and fifteen minutes from the end of lunch to the end of the day. This continued until the teacher posted artwork blocking the parents view into the classroom from those windows. The parents promptly complained to the principal, and the teacher was ordered to take them down. That teacher (and almost every other teacher at the school) refuses to teach in that exposed classroom.

I've been the subject of ridiculous complaints also. I was too hard on a kid when I separated him for calling one of the girls a "cheating dog" (for using a calculator during a maths activity where I had explicitly allowed the class to use calculators). I take the roll at the wrong time of the day. I set too much homework (and, conversely, I don't set enough homework; a complaint made by the same parent). I don't hand notes out (I prefer to lay out the notes at the front of the class, and the kids are meant to pick them up as they leave). I don't insist that someone's little baby (senior elementary student) wear a raincoat if it looks rainy outside, and I don't help that student to put that raincoat on. I drink Ginger Beer which comes in a bottle that looks like it's a bottle of real beer (that it isn't is beside the point also, because Ginger Beer has the word "beer" in it, and therefore, I'm setting a poor example to students). I advocate the use of facebook (which is actually Edmodo, which, I'll admit, does look a lot like facebook, but isn't). I am biased against or for particular students because I select them for debate teams, public speaking competitions or sport (sometimes I am still biased against particular students when I'm not involved at all in the selection or non-selection of them for various opportunities). On and on and on. Most of these complaints are, as other commenters have noted, housewives with too much time on their hands. I can't tell you how much I appreciate that I have had a good principal who, for the most part, only wastes a little bit of her and my time every so often to investigate and respond to these claims.

That being said, I think that teachers and educational institutions have to acknowledge some responsibility in allowing this to happen. We encourage a dialogue between parents and teachers on an equal level, and we don't say all that much when unqualified pundits make educational claims that are simply wrong. Anyone, no matter how unqualified, will happily make claims about education and expect that those claims have equal footing with qualified and experienced teachers. In addition to my teaching degree, I have an undergraduate degree, a masters, and a graduate certificate in my area of educational specialisation. I have over 10 years experience in teaching, including 3 years teaching teachers how to teach at a university level, and 6 years as a recognised expert in working with a particular area of education. And, yet, I have to constantly respond to e-mails, that are sometimes less than polite, demanding to know why I do some "maths stuff" while I'm teaching science, for example.

Educators have to put themselves forward as experts, because they are, and this is the only way to change the prevailing culture. How many times do you hear people questioning (and expecting to be taken seriously) the moment to moment decisions of doctors? Lawyers? Even unqualified mechanics are held in higher esteem than teacher. The reason why is that these professions put themselves forward as experts, and they allow questioning (or a "second opinion") only from other experts. This is how teachers should be.

more than 2 years ago
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School District Sued By ACLU Over Student's Free Speech Rights

SmarterThanMe Re:Dangerous (466 comments)

Schools are not the "child police".

That's nice that you say that (and it's what I happen to believe as well), but, as a teacher, I can say that you're completely out of step with society's expectations of us. More and more, parents, educational authorities, everyone is expecting us to be pseudo-parents. My school has a cyberbullying policy, a transport/walk to school policy, a personal development program (i.e., sexual education), etc. We're required to have them, but if we didn't, the parents of our students would demonstrate their complete inability to cope. All of these things should be done by parents, but aren't.

more than 2 years ago
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School District Sued By ACLU Over Student's Free Speech Rights

SmarterThanMe Dangerous (466 comments)

While I appreciate that this situation is outright silly (on the part of the school), ACLU's action here seems a little foolhardy. If schools can't discipline kids for what they say on social media, etc., then how are they meant to respond to cyber bullying such as that has led to however many teen suicides? What about defamation of teachers/students (I'm not talking about the usual Mr. So-and-so is a poopoohead, but what about calling him a pedo or something)? What about cyber-stalking or threats of physical violence against teachers/students?

The alternative would be to deal with those issues through more judicial means, and that isn't necessarily better.

more than 2 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: Technical Advice For a (Fictional) Space Mission?

SmarterThanMe Kepler-22b would be more interesting (203 comments)

http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2011/12/kepler-22b/ At 1% of the speed of light (which is still probably technically impossible) it would take 6000 years. People would have to "sleep" (cryogenics?) to reach it. The craft would be massive, containing thousands of individuals. It would accelerate constantly to the halfway point then decelerate constantly from there; that would be a challenge in and of itself. Lots of interesting stuff that you could just make up from there. :)

more than 2 years ago
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Borders Books, Dead At 40

SmarterThanMe Re:Good Riddance to Bad Business (443 comments)

Cheers! =) My students are lots of fun also, so it's win-win.

I don't think that you need to go out and hire experts in all fields in order to fill out your staff pool. But putting an education student in the motivation and health section was stupid. I didn't mention it above, but it was similarly stupid putting a nursing student into the biographies section (she didn't read those books either, but spent her break times going through the relationships shelf in my section, which apparently escaped the notice of my PHB's). Their HR approach was to put people into areas according to moment to moment need, and then leave them there. When I was hired, there were two spots open in health & motivation, so that was where I was allocated and where I stayed. It's an approach to HR that's better suited to places like Walmart and McDonald's, and it's lazy.

This is one of the reasons why chain bookstores are dying.

more than 3 years ago
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Borders Books, Dead At 40

SmarterThanMe Good Riddance to Bad Business (443 comments)

Doesn't surprise me. I worked for a chain bookstore (not Borders) when I was at uni, and they put me in the Motivation and Health section. By the way, let me introduce myself, I'm a teacher who specialises in working with gifted kids, and one of the things that I'm really good at is picking good, relatively advanced books for young kids who are beyond the books that their librarians and teachers use for other children. I read a lot of kids and YA fiction, and textbooks and educational texts, of course, but also scifi, fantasy and historical fiction, as well as non-fiction books in a number of areas. Notice something missing? I don't fucking read Motivation or Health! I can't even take those fucking books seriously, let alone sell them!

This wouldn't have been a problem, if it weren't for the rigidity of the PHB's that ran the place. My role was to stand by a shelf, and only help people who needed help with that section. One of my colleagues' spot was to stand by the self-service information computer behind a shelf, and almost literally jump out at people if they were having trouble with the search functionality (which only googled the bookstore's public website). As much as possible, I wasn't to move, and I had to do things as quickly as possible. One day, I spent 20 minutes upselling ~$150 worth of photo books and Australian kids' books to a tourist and I got a formal warning for walking away from my section and leaving it in the hands of two of my colleagues.

Let's talk about my colleagues, though. There was a guy hired at the same time as me who I was speaking to one day... Me: "So, what books do you read?"; Him: "Oh, I don't."; Me: "You don't... Read books?"; Him: "Yeah, they're boring." Awesome. He was Employee of the Month at some point after I left. I haven't been back there in a while, but I think he's probably still working there.

Their buying policy was brilliant, also. They bought hundreds of copies of things that they thought fit with the Australian psyche, i.e., obsessed with sport. So we were always left with hundreds of copies of the latest ghost written biography of some cricketer that we could literally not give away in the end. These books were always such an albatross around our necks that our PHB's were insisting that we keep them on the shelves, and sending newer, more popular books to storage or to the warehouse. If you wanted one of those newer more interesting books? You have to wait for it to be retrieved (a couple of days, usually), but please take a heavily discounted the 3rd volume of Warwick Smythe's test cricket antics that he paid someone from South Africa to write.

I shouldn't complain too much though. The 50% employee discount was awesome. Most of the long term employees were great people. Some of the supervisors were genuinely cool people. I laugh as I remember back to thinking back over having to help people "find a book, it has like a blue cover and words, I think", or "choose a motivation book for me, I don't know which one to choose."

These book chains are dying because they're trying to do business as if nothing has changed. They're hiring the cheapest, dumbest possible labour when people are only willing to go to a bookstore and pay a bit more than they would at Amazon because they want to talk to someone knowledgeable and well-read about books.

more than 3 years ago
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George W. Bush Live From Facebook

SmarterThanMe Re:I hope it's moderated (372 comments)

The guy next door has Rick Astly blasting "on 11" 24/7, thus providing both sleep deprivation and loud music. Can I really prosecute him for TORTURE?

Can you escape the noise by walking away? Or are you confined to your house in some way? Do you have the protection of local planning laws or do you live in some sort of anarchic community?

Pffft.

more than 3 years ago

Submissions

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Aussie kids no longer able to buy Adults Only games

SmarterThanMe SmarterThanMe writes  |  more than 2 years ago

SmarterThanMe (1679358) writes "The Won't-someone-please-think-of-the-children brigade suffered a major loss when the Australian Senate passed legislation allowing for the creation of an R18+ category for the classification of videogames. This should mean that, from 2013 onwards, (a) adults can buy adult games without any dumbing down; and (b) kids will no longer be able to buy games that are way too adult for them."
Link to Original Source
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Sending Juice to explore Jupiter and its Icy Moons

SmarterThanMe SmarterThanMe writes  |  more than 2 years ago

SmarterThanMe (1679358) writes "Europe will spend €1 billion sending a spacecraft, named Juice, to explore Jupiter and its moons. The mission will have a particular focus on the "icy" moons, Ganymede, Callisto and Europa with the hope of developing our understanding of what similar planetoids around other stars could look like."
Link to Original Source
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Xbox modding might be "fair use"..?

SmarterThanMe SmarterThanMe writes  |  more than 3 years ago

SmarterThanMe (1679358) writes "Matthew Crippen, who allegedly played around with his Xbox in such a way that he would have been able to play pirated games or homebrew software (ie, circumvent the DMCA protections on the device), is preparing his defence on the basis that his modification was "fair use". His lawyers are referring to a similar case involving modding of iPhones where it was accepted as a "fair use" situation."
Link to Original Source
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Will Wright to do "SimTVShow"

SmarterThanMe SmarterThanMe writes  |  more than 3 years ago

SmarterThanMe (1679358) writes "Will Wright, creator of various famous computer games beginning with "Sim-", is involved in the production of a new TV show "Bar Karma". The possibly vaguely Sci-Fi show will involve viewers heavily in putting forward their own storyboards that the show will then play out. Viewers also vote on the storyboards that they most like for the next episode. In effect, the viewing public collaborates with each other to create the show!"
Link to Original Source

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