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Limiting the Teaching of the Scientific Process In Ohio

UnderCoverPenguin Re:And this is how we get to the more concrete har (523 comments)

But to knock "how science actually works" off the curriculum in order to make creationism slightly more viable as a meme, knocks a very important and practical tool out of childrens' toolbox for learning about the world.

I think that is the ultimate goal: To "teach" children what "they" think children should know instead of enabling children to actually learn.

about a week ago

Why Do Humans Grow Up So Slowly? Blame the Brain

UnderCoverPenguin Re:Society also does this.. (128 comments)

WE have some wierd fetish with letting kids be kids for as long as possible. Sorry but at 13 you are biologically an adult so you need to have adult responsibilities and adult expectations. these teenagers need to get off their asses and work, build, etc.. Instead we extend this out to age 20 before we expect them to get a job and start being responsible.

More like not allow them to get jobs or otherwise have the legal authority to function as adults. There are very few, if any, jobs anyone under 16 is legally allowed (not counting allowance for doing family chores). And not many that 16 and 17 year olds are legally allowed. At age 10, my daughter wanted a real, paying job. And she was actually capable of doing meaningful office work. She also wanted to stay in school. She thought she could handle 2 hours per day of office work along with her studies. She might have been right. We did look into things we did at that age, like a paper route, but such jobs are either no longer available (at least for those under 18) or no longer legal for those under 18. She did try being a model - by her choice. She hated that. Partly because of the people she worked for and partly because working on Sat mornings greatly negatively impacted her other weekend activities.

about a week ago

Why Do Humans Grow Up So Slowly? Blame the Brain

UnderCoverPenguin Re:Humankind and eusociality (128 comments)

and the public has become more accepting of a gay lifestyle

Being gay doesn't automatically exclude someone being a "breeder". It does introduce challenges, both biological and social. I have plenty of gay friends who are parents or are trying to become parents.

That said, at least in the US, the job market encourages workers to not be parents. Partly from this, and partly from other reasons, there are plenty of non-gay relationships that choose to not have children and have even obtained medical treatment to prevent accidental pregnancy. (Side note: The logic of the one state in the appeals court gay marriage ban case suggests that these marriages are invalid because accidental pregnancy is not possible.)

However, getting closer to the eusocial ideal will not be good.

about a week ago

Why Do Humans Grow Up So Slowly? Blame the Brain

UnderCoverPenguin Re:not so fast (128 comments)

It takes a long time to teach our kids because the system we have for teaching them is horribly inefficient and has been for thousands of years at this point.

Until around 1900, within the working class (which generally included lower middle class back then), education was reading, basic writing and arithmetic. A 12 year old - whether boy or girl - was expected to be a productive member of working class society and was often married (12 for girls and 14 or so for boys). Education beyond that was for the upper class (and upper middle class), especially university level education. Extending education through grade 12 (typically age 17 or 18) for (nominally) all young people happen since then.

When I was 18, I did not hear society complaining that 18 year olds were not ready to be adults. (Yeah, some parents had trouble accepting their kids were 18, but even they did not, in general, feel that 18 year olds were not ready to be adults)

Now, I hear a lot of complaints about 18 year olds not being ready to be adults (despite an increase in demand to try and sentence kids

So, what's different? Part of it is inefficiency in the education system. Part of it is that we need to learn more. And part of it is increasing societal demand for over protectiveness - whether by scaring parents or by telling parents "you can't" - or "must not" - let your kids do _____.

The biological reality is more complex. Teenagers (or more broadly, those from onset of puberty through full maturity) are neither adults nor children. And now, our society has shifted from forcing them to be adults to forcing them to be children. Yet, so many adults wonder why so many of today's 18 year olds are not ready to be adults.

about a week ago

Why Do Humans Grow Up So Slowly? Blame the Brain

UnderCoverPenguin Re:Sperm to frogs (128 comments)

Zero gravity toilets use air flow. So diapers are optional and generally only used for EVA.

about a week ago

When Customer Dissatisfaction Is a Tech Business Model

UnderCoverPenguin Re:You lost me (257 comments)

The GP was not talking about ISPs. He was talking about services like Facebook and Twitter. Users of those services are not customers. The users are the product. Of course, piss off too many users too much, then the advertising clicks go down, and , therefore, revenue.

about two weeks ago

When Customer Dissatisfaction Is a Tech Business Model

UnderCoverPenguin Re:Where would we flee to? (257 comments)

I think what you're looking at is companies like Comcast who have government guaranteed monopoly in the areas they serve.

Neither the cableco nor the telco have "government guaranteed" monopolies in my area. It's just that the potential competitors don't see enough potential ROI to extend their service into my city - at least not beyond where they can easily install a drop line. I'm 1 street in from the city border. Houses across the street from my house and the houses they are back-to-back with can get service from the competition despite being in my city. For a few years, the neighbor directly across from my house was quite willing to let me put a cable modem and WiFi with directional antenna in his attic. And the competition was more than happy to have me as a customer. Now that neighbor (and several others) has moved, so I am stuck with the one company, now.

about two weeks ago

When Customer Dissatisfaction Is a Tech Business Model

UnderCoverPenguin Re:Free market (257 comments)

A smaller call center staffed with decently trained and compensated CSRs is far more cost effective than watching the headcount continuously grow and churn to deal with the increased call volume due to poorly trained staff...

Except that some companies have found that they can get away with not increasing head count in customer service.

My ISP is doing that. In most of the markets they "serve" their internet service is just enough better than the telco's internet service that it has an effective monopoly. Therefore, they don't care about customer service beyond delivering bits. The telco doesn't care about its internet service because its telephone service is better than the cableco's VOIP service (which is better than the telco's VOIP). Though this could change when POTS is phased out.

about two weeks ago

Ask Slashdot: What Do You Wish You'd Known Starting Out As a Programmer?

UnderCoverPenguin Re:Pick a different job. (548 comments)

I don't write mediocre code, I write smart code which is something else entirely than being "clever".

++ this. There is a huge difference between smart code and "clever" code.

Disclaimer: My employer doesn't view me as a mere programmer. From my employer's official description (as given to the recruiters): "Associate Engineer, Electronics/Mechanical/Software/Systems/Validation: 1. Demonstrated ability to design and implement smart solutions to complex problems. ... 3. Work well in a cross-discipline team environment. ...." (I am currently a "senior engineer, SW") They pay me and my co-workers to come up with *smart* code (among other things).

about two weeks ago

FCC Warned Not To Take Actions a Republican-Led FCC Would Dislike

UnderCoverPenguin Re:Full of it (338 comments)

The argument is that municipal broadband discourages private investment in broadband communications, that taxpayer-funded projects are barriers to future infrastructure investment.

What do they think tax credits are? Before either the telco or the cable company would expand broadband service into the outer neighborhoods where I live, the city had to give the telco and cable companies a huge, many year tax credit - many times what the companies own people claimed the cost of equipment upgrades.

about two weeks ago

How many devices are connected to your home Wi-Fi?

UnderCoverPenguin Re:Phones + 1 laptop. (260 comments)

I forgot about a gaming system which is wireless only because some idiot engineer somewhere decided that a stationary device, designed to connect to the internet, should be built without an ethernet port!

Cost savings. Our first Blu-ray player (which died 4 days after the 3 year (extended) warrantee expired) had an Ethernet port and 2 USB ports. The 2nd USB was designated for the optional ($80) WiFi adapter. While researching a replacement, I noticed that most reviews for the one that just died complained about the lack of WiFi and how hard it was to get Ethernet to it (interesting how old reviews stay around). The replacement has WiFi, no Ethernet and only 1 USB (we bought it 2 years ago).

about two weeks ago

How many devices are connected to your home Wi-Fi?

UnderCoverPenguin Re:Phones + 1 laptop. (260 comments)

4 tablets, 2 laptops, 1 netbook, printer, TV, Blu-ray, 3 cats and a cat-food (and water) dispenser. (No squirrels nor birds)

Gigabit has my PC plus a second PC (dedicated to Flightgear).

about two weeks ago

Web Trolls Winning As Incivility Increases

UnderCoverPenguin Re:Not Government (457 comments)

By extension, the "Freedom of speech" argument falls flat on its face when said (supposedly) ignorant people/trolls choose to drown out the conversation. No one wants to join/stay in a conversation if there is an extremely high chance/they have already been personally attacked.

I think you are misunderstanding the freedom of speech argument.

Actual trolls certainly do interfere with freedom of speech. The problem is that existing strategies to prevent and/or mitigate trolling also interfere with freedom of speech. For example: Even the best, most objective editors and editorial boards are fallible. They are also subject to various pressures to expand the definitions of "troll" and "inappropriate content."

Even a reputation based system will fail. Some people feel strongly enough about certain topics they feel it is worth damaging their reputations

As for potential AI editors/moderators, I have no doubt a programmer could easily sneak in biases - both intentional and otherwise. Also, the owners of the hardware the AI is running on will doubtless have their own biases they demand be incorporated.

about three weeks ago

Slashdot Asks: Should Schooling Be Year-Round?

UnderCoverPenguin Re:No, school should not be year-round. (421 comments)

Regardless of its origin, the long summer break can work very well for kids - if our society would let today's (and tomorrow's) kids be like many of us were back when we were kids. I would say that the move for year long school is more because todays parents can neither take more than a very few weeks per year of vacation nor give kids as little supervision as their parents (or grandparents) did.

That aside, our daughter's long summer breaks were (still are) good for her and her mother (my grilfriend). They spend the summer at the family farm. (I can only take 2 weeks vacation (and 10 mostly individual holidays) per year, so I only spend weekends, plus 1 week, there. (my girlfriend is a teacher)) Our daughter loves it - especially since some of her friends are allowed by their parents to go there, too.

about three weeks ago

Slashdot Asks: Should Schooling Be Year-Round?

UnderCoverPenguin Re:No, school should not be year-round. (421 comments)

given all that, just to stay competitive

Competitive? At what? Education isn't about getting jobs or any other such nonsense; it's about furthering people's understanding of the universe. Schools shouldn't be job training, unless they're trade schools.

One of my co-workers is an immigrant from India. She got a real education resulting in 2 BA and 1 MA degree, all of it for free. Job training was her first few months at some company in India - during which she was paid.. Because of her education, she is actually a much better worker than most of her US "educated" colleagues.

So yes, US born and raised people have a lot to be worried about vs their forgien counterparts.

I dropped out of public school, and I dropped out for a damn good reason; it was awful. More of it would have only made me despise it even more. Fortunately, I got into a good state university and saw what education was supposed to be like.

I was lucky enough to get a scholarship to private school, then scholarships to a top university, so I could receive a real education. Now, many fewer US kids get the opportunities that I did.

about three weeks ago

New Digital Currency Bases Value On Reputation

UnderCoverPenguin Re:Paper tracked barter (100 comments)

Sounds like store coupons to me, or maybe low value gift certificates (like the kind restaurant managers give you, when your meal is a disastar, instead of refunding your money).

about a month and a half ago

Ask Slashdot: Choosing a Web Language That's Long-Lived, and Not Too Buzzy?

UnderCoverPenguin Re:Perl still works, and PHP is fine (536 comments)

I know it's in vogue to hate on PHP,

I don't hate PHP. I just don't use it unless I have to.

but PHP is relatively modern, robust, and fully capable of handling enterprise tasks.

I'm not sure what you mean by "relatively modern". If you mean it is younger then Perl, that is true. 20 years old vs Perl's 26 years.

Both languages have evolved, adopting new ideas and adapting to new needs. They both borrow from other languages and from each other. Indeed PHP started out as a set of Perl scripts. A side effect of this was that PHP 1.0 (released in 1995) "syntax resembled that of Perl" (

Both are "fully capable of handling enterprise tasks".

The original posting claimed Perl "just seems to be ossifying". I think this is a perception problem unwittingly caused by the Perl 6 project. I think what we call Perl 5.20 might have been Perl 7.x (or even 8.x or higher) if the developers were free to increment the 5. As a similar example, look at FireFox and Chrome. Google's use of a single version number created a perception that FireFox 3.x was ancient. After Mozilla switched to using single number version for FireFox, the perception of FireFox began to improve. Another example: When Intel added "MMX extensions" to Pentium, people asked when will PowerPC get MMX extensions. The fact that the PowerPC already had equivalent features was ignored and the PowerPC was painted as falling behind the Pentium.

Perl, PHP and many other "old" languages are still used. If anything, their continued use is better evidence to expect they will be actively supported 5 (or more) years from now then whatever the current "rising star" happens to be..

about 2 months ago

Kids With Wheels: Should the Unlicensed Be Allowed To 'Drive' Autonomous Cars?

UnderCoverPenguin Re:Trains? (437 comments)

I also see the possibility for handicapped kids to get some mobility. Other kids can get around with bicycles or walk, but if you have a handicap you can get severely limited and depending on parents and friends.

I strongly suspect that Child Protective Services would be more willing to allow parents to let their children use "private" autonomous cars than public transportation. (I recall a story a few years ago about some parents getting in deep trouble because thay allowed their son to use public transportation on his own.)

about 3 months ago

Botched Executions Put Lethal Injections Under New Scrutiny

UnderCoverPenguin Re:Stop messing around (483 comments)

The focus should be on either eliminate the treat to society, or compensate the victim.

Allegedly, the threat is being eliminated. Though as a by-producted of punishment. But this goal would imply that a painless method would be the most appropriate.

(As pointed out by several /.ers, including myself, on many occasions, using a nitrogen purge to induce asphixia would be painless, effective and not have supply issues.)

As for compensating victims, (1) very few criminals are actually capable of being sources of said compensation. (2) It would create an incentive to be a victim.

about 3 months ago

Teachers Union: Computers Can Negatively Impact Children's Ability To Learn

UnderCoverPenguin Re:For a given definition of learn (310 comments)

Asking questions and understanding basic concepts is great for science or engineering when you have time for it. But if I walk in with a medical condition, you need to fix me using the best practice that researchers have proved. So please have it memorized, or look it up if you aren't in the ER or surgery room and have time for it.

Medical doctors still need problem solving skills. Not all treatments/procedures work the same for all patients. Just because we both have condition A and treatment X works great for me, maybe even for 90% of patients, doesn't mean it will work for you. You might need treatment Y, instead. If your doctor can't figure that out, find a new one.

(Unfortunately, many insurance companies insist doctors do X first every time (unless the patient is allergic to X or otherwise X just isn't possible).)

about 3 months ago



Citizen Science: Who makes the rules?

UnderCoverPenguin UnderCoverPenguin writes  |  about 8 months ago

UnderCoverPenguin (1001627) writes "At MakeZine, David Lang talks about the some of the legal issues around a planned, amature science "expedition", as well as some other amature science projects.

In the not too distant past, most science was amature. Over the past 20 or so years, society has been making it harder for amatures to do real science despite the technical costs falling. With the recent upswing of the "maker movement", amature science has seen an increase as well, but is running into an assortment of legal issues.(An exception is astronomy, where amatures continue to play important roles. Of course, astronomy doesn't involve chemicals or other (currently) "scary stuff".)

Can amature science make a come-back? Or are the legal obsicles too entrenched?"

Review: Sintel

UnderCoverPenguin UnderCoverPenguin writes  |  more than 3 years ago

UnderCoverPenguin (1001627) writes "Last night, I watched Sintel ( Technically, it was a beautiful showcase for Blender. The models and animations were very well done. The fight and chase scenes were excellent. I think the movie can stand on its own among professionally made short movies of similar style and genre. Story-wise, the plot was weak and predictable. Also, the end of the final fight was too bleak and disturbing for the likely audience. Spoiler: I think the ending would have been better if the woman had been killed by the dragon. Unfortunately, I don't have the skill needed to re-do the ending myself."

Stage 1 works perfectly, Stage 2 fails to seperate

UnderCoverPenguin UnderCoverPenguin writes  |  about 6 years ago

UnderCoverPenguin (1001627) writes "In the 3rd launch of Falcon 1 (, the first stage, with the latest version of the Merlin engine, works perfectly. Unfortunately, the second stage failed to separate. ( Hopefully it was only a minor setback, despite the huge cost."


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