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Slashdot Asks: Should Schooling Be Year-Round?

meburke Why? (421 comments)

I have had to interview numerous High School graduates and Junior College attendees who were so bad at math they couldn't run a cash register. What evidence is there to indicate that "schooling" over the summer is a benefit to them or Society at large?

Although I object to his lack of citations, real proof, and his use of innuendo and other false arguments, I strongly agree that John Taylor Gatto http://johntaylorgatto.com/ is right: The American Education system is irrevocably broken and must be redesigned from scratch. The school system is (WARNING!:GROSS GENERALIZATION AHEAD!) something where you send your kids to prison during the working hours to have their heads messed with by persons only marginally capable of feeding themselves .

OK, I agree that there are SOME dedicated and competent teachers, but I suspect they are working in an environment that systematically sabotages their best efforts. It is also true that some students do well in spite of the average school environment. These anomalous students maybe have access to better schools, better teachers, and better parents.

The idea of making students go to school year-around is case of "jumping-to-solutions" and avoids any real thinking about "How can we improve our educational system?"

about 4 months ago

'Just Let Me Code!'

meburke Re:"Just let me build a bridge!" (372 comments)

Not a bad analogy, but Engineering follows the rules of Physics and Chemistry, which were built on layers and layers of scientific thought and experiment. Hardly anyone writing code these days understands what's happening under the hood.

Disclaimer: I've been programming since 1965. I'm proud of the fact that I can create logic gates that will do medium to complex mathematics.

Programmers have become like lawyers: They are sometimes competent technicians but are not required to engage in original thought. We are long past the time when we should really need "coders" anymore for application production. We need thinkers who can define requirements precisely, designers who can describe processes to produce those results, and then turn the design (UML. Warnier-Orr, Flowchart, etc.) over to a generator that produces reliable, proven object code. The inventiveness is in the design, not the coding (usually...some exceptions apply).

In a society where we are faced with self-driving cars and machines that care for sick, young and elderly, the type of "coding" (based on layers of algorithms developed back in the 60's..including errors) will not be sufficient. Committee-work will not make it better.

Goedel? Who cares? Somewhere there is an original thinker who can traverse the wall of logical abstraction that will allow us to prove programs correct in multiple domains. When that happens, "coding" will be demonstrated in craft fairs instead of professional offices.

about 4 months ago

Math, Programming, and Language Learning

meburke Language = Math (241 comments)

I am surprised that more people are not better at Math, since language is almost entirely Math. Think of the words we use that denote math terms: Quantity (more, less, many, one, few, all, none, etc.), space (large, small, besides, etc.), relationships (on, in, with, by, all, included, etc.), ..and the list goes on.

I strongly recommend a book called, "What Linguists Always Wanted to Know About Logic..* (*But were Ashamed to Ask!)" by McCawley.


Incidentally, this book has one of the BEST descriptions of Lambda Calculus I've seen so far.

I can easily see the disconnect between language and programming; it s pretty much the same as the disconnect between language and good thinking. Language contains many distortions, deletions and generalizations the people who know the language process unconsciously (sometime to their detriment) to complete their understanding of the communication. Computers cannot, at this time, do a good job of imputing the missing components to fully complete the instruction.

Good programmers are simply better at complete and precise thinking.

about 4 months ago

China Using Troop of Trained Monkeys To Guard Air Base

meburke Monkeys = good guards (119 comments)

Back in 1996 there was a warehouse in Cam Ranh Bay that had large amounts of goods continually disappearing at night. AP patrols with dogs didn't stop the theft, so the K9 guys attack-trained a half dozen monkeys (about 30 lbs each). They would keep the monkeys in a CONEX container and back it up to the entry door in the eveneing, and when they opened the CONEX the monkeys would race into the warehouse. The next morning they would back the empty CONEX to the door and bang on the back wall; the monkeys would then race into the CONEX to get food. From that point on, nothing disappeared from the warehouse at night.

about 7 months ago

The Feature Phone Is Dead: Long Live the 'Basic Smartphone'

meburke Re:Not the phone (243 comments)

ATT points out that the demand for wireless services will increase 8 times (800 percent for those of you who don't undrstand math) from December 2013 through December 2018. Most of this increase will be the continued rise of phones as internet devices. (2014 is the first year that demand for internet to phone devices exceeds internet to desktop computers.) A large trend is the demand for inter-connectivity between devices; Vehicle-to-vehicle, phone-to-computer, wearable gear-to-desktop and cloud. Thesity will be increasing ly replaced by virtualization ande are all crating demand for wireless services. Data pipes will be like oil piplines untill the infrastructure catches up. Worse, where we have hardware connectivity will be replaced by virtualization and software-defined device emulation and virtual networks, so errors and breakages will be more disruptive.

about 7 months ago

How Concrete Contributed To the Downfall of the Roman Empire

meburke Other Econoimic reasons... (384 comments)

There is a good argument that the Roman Empire succumbed to an energy crises: They couldn't get enough firewood to even keep their cookfires going. Those famous Roman Roads were hauling firewood from as far away as Northern Gaul and the Danish coast. It was expensive and not the least timely. The hills around Rome were denuded of trees, and Romans spread out. Soon there was a lack of cohesiveness in Roman Society.

Pompey and Caesar were not the only rulers to make the mistake of thinking that public works construction was equivalent to productive employment; this fallacy is prevalent even in the USA today. Infrastructure on the other hand, such as the roads and harbor, greatly increased the trade in the area.

And lastly, concrete was used in Egypt a couple thousand years earlier than it was employed in the Roman Empire.

about 7 months ago

How the FCC Plans To Save the Internet By Destroying It

meburke Re:Yes they do (217 comments)

Again, the issue is not a matter of Black or White.

My relatives in Canada are constantly commenting on the delays and inefficincies of the heal care system. I have a some relatives who came down to the USA for bypass operations and transplants because they could get treated in a week or two instead of 6 months or more.

My relatives in Sweden have similar complaints.

My 96-year-old Mother might not be alive if she had to depend on Canada's National Health Service. At 92 she had a mitral valve replacement. In Canada, because of her age, she would have been put on a low priority. At 96 she drives herself everywhere, does her own shopping, goes to Writer's group, and has a pretty good life. She thinks that's better than being forced to die from lack of oxygen and energy over a period of a year or two.

The issue is not insurance. The issue is health care distribution for the most people, at the highest quality possible. For the last 30 years the USA has been the "Gold Standard" for health care. In just one year Obamacare has tarnished the standard, and, based on the experience in Sweden, UK, and Canada, it doesn't look like it will ever regain its luster.

There are a couple of moral questions that bother me: 1. Is it moral to steal from others (in the form of taxes) for your own benefit? And 2. Who has the right to make decisions on your health care?

Of course, even in the most Socialist countries the bureaucrats are going to be cared for even if the common populace is given short shrift.

about 7 months ago

Book Review: Money: The Unauthorized Biography

meburke Re:Money: Two Kinds (91 comments)

Actually, there are many kinds of money if you consider money as a "thing." However, money is a "measurement" used to help determine if trading is equitable for all parties.

Although this book is interesting, I would recommend Ludwig Von Mises, "The theory of Money and Credit" https://mises.org/books/Theory...
for a more well-rounded look at what money actually "is".

Question Suppose you needed a board 3' long for a bookshelf, and the government made the "inch" smaller between the time you measured and the time you decided to purchase the lumber; Would you settle for a shorter board or would you expend more resources for a board that would fit? (This is the problem with fiat money.)

about 8 months ago

Ask Slashdot: How Can I Improve My Memory For Study?

meburke Physical/Mental Harmony (384 comments)

There have been many memory courses and systems taught over the last couple of centuries. I personally liked, "How to Develop a Super Power Memory," by Harry Lorayne. It's old but good, and you only have to read it once. (!!!) http://www.amazon.com/How-Develop-Super-Power-Memory/dp/0811901815

There are many others: One of my favorites for studying is, "Brainbooster" by Robert Finkle. It helps organize your memory system specifically for studying. http://www.amazon.com/New-Brainbooster-Hours-Learning-Remembering/dp/0802773524/ref=sr_1_6?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1389726169&sr=1-6&keywords=brainboosters

I have over thirty how-to books on memory and learning that revolve around mnemonics. They all teach pretty much the same thing,, and some of them may appeal to you more than others, so check around. The books by Tony Buzan are pretty good, and some of them teach skills besides memory that apply to study.

The book, "Find Your Focus Zone," by Lucy Palladino is terrific, and includes insights into how the brain works and how to make it work better. http://www.yourfocuszone.com/

A lot of people don't study well because they don't take care of their body. I highly recommend, "The Four Hour Body," by Timothy Ferriss. As for learning, His book, "The Four-Hour Chef" is more about learning than cooking. (Tim did a show for Discovery called, "Trial by Fire" which followed him while he learned martial arts skills (Yabasume) equivalent to 20 years' ordinary practice in only about 4 months. He has a background in neuro science, so he seems to have access to a lot of cool resources.) http://www.amazon.com/4-Hour-Body-Uncommon-Incredible-Superhuman/dp/030746363X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1389726764&sr=1-1&keywords=4+hour+body+by+timothy+ferris

Again, the connection between brain and body; "Change your Brain-Change your Body" by Daniel Amen. This is very much about Brain Fitness, but also syncs the health and fitness connection. http://www.amazon.com/Change-Your-Brain-Body-Always/dp/0307463583

For fun read, "Moonwalking with Einstein," by Joshua Foer. It is an overview of the culture of people who train their memory for serious competition. http://www.amazon.com/Moonwalking-Einstein-Science-Remembering-Everything/dp/0143120530/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1389726982&sr=1-1&keywords=walking+with+einstein

Good luck.

about 10 months ago

Soylent: No Food For 30 Days

meburke Minor observations- (440 comments)

The need for carbohydrates has never been established. True, the body needs fuel, but the body can burn fats and protein. The brain is actually designed to run more efficiently on ketones than sugars. People have lived healthily for years on meat-only and mostly meat diets. However, if you don't take in carbs you pretty much need fats and oils for fuel.

I'm more worried about the soy content than anything else; There seems to be strong evidence that lots of soy is antagonistic to testosterone balances.

As for vegetarianism: http://www.amazon.com/The-Vegetarian-Myth-Justice-Sustainability/dp/1604860804 . This is a great basis for lively discussion from a former vegan.

1 year,15 days

Healthcare.gov Official Resigns, Website Still a Disaster

meburke Re:As an outsider. (559 comments)

I have another reason for opposing Obamacare: It is immoral. "Thou shalt not steal'"

Suppose you woke up tomorrow and the Constable was towing away your car.

The reason is that the widow woman down the street can't afford to buy one, she needs one to go to work, and yours is handy. Besides, you have job, you have money, you can obviously buy another if you want. Are you happy now? Are you better off now? Is Society better off?

And since the Constable and title people don't work for nothing, about every 5th car they seize must be sold to pay their expenses.

And here's the kicker: If YOU seized someone else's car to give to another less-privileged person, you would be arrested for theft.

IMO, since you cannot authorize another person to do something that would be illegal for you to do, you cannot authorize government to do it either.

So, one of my favorite stories is about Davy Crockett's "Not yours to give" speech to Congress: http://www.fee.org/library/detail/not-your-to-give-2#axzz2k1CYkjKQ

Unfortunately, it is not true: http://crockettincongress.blogspot.com/2009/10/not-yours-to-give-fable-re-examined.html

However, the proposition and conclusions seem to be correct, and I agree with the sentiment.

1 year,20 days

Healthcare.gov Official Resigns, Website Still a Disaster

meburke Re:As an outsider. (559 comments)

Nicely said.

1 year,20 days

Healthcare.gov Official Resigns, Website Still a Disaster

meburke Re:As an outsider. (559 comments)

The 9% number comes from multiple sources that say that the additional cost of providing insurance to qualified employees is around 8.9% (CBO) to 9.5% (Aetna and others). On the other hand, FactCheck has arguments that indicate the portion of the increase due to ACA is only about 2-3% http://www.factcheck.org/2011/10/factchecking-health-insurance-premiums/ . IMO, even 2-3% can be a burden if added to other increasing expenses, but 1.) I don't know where the margin is, and 2.) We are talking about estimates (which, by definition, lack precision).

1 year,20 days

Healthcare.gov Official Resigns, Website Still a Disaster

meburke Re:As an outsider. (559 comments)

I've only been keeping track since the 2014 figures came out, and my informal scoring should not be a benchmark. I neglected to mention that the increase averages about 2.3 times the current coverage. (230% for non-mathematicians.)

However, you make a good point, and I 'm looking up statistics as we speak: Multiple sources say that the average health care costs increased annually from a little over 9%/year in the early 2000's to around 4%/year in the years preceding 2010. The statistics on health insurance costs kept pace increasing about 1-2% higher than healthcare costs.

There are some questions to be answered before just accepting those statistics; Is the cost increase due to economic conditions like inflation? is it due to demographics like people my age incurring more severe illnesses? There are expenditures that may be being currently amortized but intended for future consumption. (For instance, MD Anderson has at least 2 totally empty buildings, empty for multiple years, that are intended to provide services for future patients.) So there are a LOT of possible contributions to the previous increase in healthcare and insurance costs.

However, it seems apparent that the ACA rollout has caused a disproportionate lift in healthcare insurance costs.

1 year,20 days

Healthcare.gov Official Resigns, Website Still a Disaster

meburke Re:As an outsider. (559 comments)

I totally object to your language and argument. It is inflammatory without being relevant.

I agree that Obamacare is bad economics, and I have the opinion that it was rammed down our throats by a Socialist mob, but faulty argumentation is not going to get people focusing on WHAT's right; it just keeps the focus on WHO's right. (or who thinks they are right.)

At this point I'm so fed up with politicians I think they should all be fired for not focusing on solutions that work for everybody, or at least almost everybody.

1 year,21 days

Healthcare.gov Official Resigns, Website Still a Disaster

meburke Re:As an outsider. (559 comments)

Actually, I kind of agree with you; The law may be faulty, but sniping at the website problems won't fix the underlying flaws.

Economists know that every attempt at price controls over the last 4500 years (approximately) have resulted in shortages of the goods/services under control, and higher prices for those goods/services. All I needed to know about Obamacare was that it is a form of price control.

I'm 65 years old, and I've been tracking the results of Obamacare among the people I know. (NOT a scientific study.) So far, I'm seeing 8 instances of increased insurance costs (including two people who just qualified for Medicare/Medicaid) for every 1 instance of cost savings. It seems that some States, like NY, are benefitting from the increased competition created by allowing offers across State lines.

It is an Economic Principle that whatever you tax, you will get less of. Obamacare imposes about a 9% additional tax on each employee, and so it is probably going to lead to fewer qualifying jobs in the private sector. The number of part-time and temp jobs seems to be increasing here in Texas, but full-time work is hard to get outside industries such as Medicine and Energy.

1 year,21 days

Tech Titans Oracle, Red Hat and Google To Help Fix Healthcare.gov

meburke Will they teach Economics? (404 comments)

I, for one, am glad to see government doing something right. They have fallen short of privatizing the site, but....

Will the three tech giants also teach Economics?

1 year,27 days

SF Airport Officials Make Citizen Arrests of Internet Rideshare Drivers

meburke Re:Er what...Pre-conviction (510 comments)

There is a strong argument that licensing is a form of pre-conviction and should be declared unconstitutional. Licenses should be reserved for those who have been shown to be a threat to safety. Enforcement would be easier, monitoring would be easier (since the number of unsafe providers would surely be smaller than total number of providers.

In actuality, licensing is a form of revenue for the State, and is unlikely to be discontinued. Welcome to creeping government interference in your life.

The Economic argument against licensing is that it restricts the number of providers and therefore drives the price up for consumers. It is a form of unionization, designed to keep the number of providers limited and the prices and rewards higher for the providers who are willing to go through the expense and inconvenience of complying. Yup, hairdressers, massage, barbers, taxi drivers, restaurants, doctors, nurses, etc.,etc... All rip-offs.

Then there is the price control argument: Economists know that for 4500 years EVERY attempt at price control has resulted in higher costs and shortages of the good or service being controlled. San Francisco? Famous for hard-to-find price-controlled, expensive apartments. (Obamacare is just another instance of price control. It is not even close to fully implemented, yet we are already seeing shortages and higher costs.)

about a year ago

The Pope Criminalizes Leaks

meburke Re:Suspicious (266 comments)

This ranks with one of the stupidest remarks ever posted to /.

What kind of mutt thinks that a statement of pure innuendo is legitimate discussion? Remember, innuendo is also a way of "bearing false witness" and against the Commandments.

One the other hand, the Vatican leaks that got published already showed a huge disparity between the calm, exterior image of the Papacy vs the actual political, tumultuous reality. That is probably something Benedict didn't want leaked.

about a year ago

Ask Slashdot: Why Won't Companies Upgrade Old Software?

meburke Re:Too complex? (614 comments)

I may have more to say on this:

I kinda miss the days when, if my terminal went down, I simply replaced it with another. No one tried to hack my WYSE 50. Yes, communications between stations could get complex, but the administration point was at the server. I'm convinced that the advent of the desktop windows system created a lot of useless entertainment-oriented requirements into our software design. Although I've worked on a very large number of Operating Systems in the last 48 years, my favorite remains the ATT UNIX System V R3.2 simply because it worked predictably.

I have no proof that 75% of the productivity resides in 25% of the applications, but it holds true in Economics and Business, so I'm willing to accept the assumption until further evidence proves otherwise. "Cloud Computing" is really nothing more than server-based computing architecture on an international scale. IF(?) the architecture remains stable, then there should be some terrific advantages to computing in the cloud with dumber desktop systems. One of the main advantages could be that bugs and exploits are fixed and installed almost immediately, without legions of techs crawling under millions of desks and temporarily occupying millions of other peoples' chairs trying to get the system upgraded so business can resume.

about a year and a half ago



Another VeriSign scam

meburke meburke writes  |  more than 2 years ago

meburke writes "I've used Network Solutions as my registrar for many years. In fact, when I first registered my name they were the only choice.

Now I am TOTALLY pissed off at them: They tried to "autorenew" my registration and tried to charge my bank account without my permission! I did not sign up for autorenewal, nor did I give anyone permission to charge my account. Then they sent me an email telling me my "order" was incomplete! (Luckily, they used the wrong credit card number.)

So I'm pissed. I reported them to the Texas Attorney General's Office. I was going to send an email with a strongly worded message, but there is no meaningful recipient listed in their contacts list. Calling "Customer Service" connected me to some call center slave in some sweatshop in India, who aplogized about 20 times and then tried to pressure me into renewing over the phone.

I am asking the /. community for suggestions for actions I can take that will move a million registrations from VeriSign to some other registrar by January 1, 2013. Some suggestions I've recieved so far include a facebook campaign, anti-NS websight and legal action to prevent them from registering domains until they clean up their act. Any other ideas out there?"

Ask Slashdot: Methods for sync'ing smartphone and tasks?

meburke meburke writes  |  more than 2 years ago

meburke writes "I made a BIG mistake. I listened to the Microsoft propaganda and bought a Windows 7 smartphone thinking I could sync my phone and Outlook. WARNING!: If you use your Windows PC for organizing your calendars and tasks, you must use Hotmail or Exchange for co-ordinating with your smartphone (and it still won't necessarily work right). Windows 7 smartphones do not sync with Outlook without a couple hours of tweaking.

I need to correct this for myself and for my customers. I went to Outlook because I liked the feature set better than I liked Evolution, and Evolution didn't co-ordinate well with Windows platforms. I am looking for alternatives. The major criteria is that wherever I make an entry; be it a new task, finished task, timesheet, new contact or whatever; it must end up in a single repository on my desktop. The second criteria is that (because I work in both the Windows and *nix environments) I can transfer selected items from one OS to another."

Secure kernel?

meburke meburke writes  |  more than 5 years ago

meburke (736645) writes "OK, here it is: http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20327236.400-universal-kernel-code-to-keep-computers-safe.html Researchers have developed a secure microkernel prototype supposedly mathematically proven to always respond as specified, and (being a microkernel) resistant to modification or attack.

What fascinates me is the idea that "programs are mathematics" and can be reasoned with mathematically. This brings to mind early pronouncements by James Martin and Seymour Cray predicting that program bugs will be a thing of the past when all programs are built on proven logical units."

CBS example of webmaster screwup

meburke meburke writes  |  more than 5 years ago

meburke (736645) writes "Since Friday, February 6, 2009 CBS's http://www.cbs.com/video website has been showing weird behavior. Now you would think that a communications company could manage a website, right? However, recently advertised "watch latest episode' sites of Numb3rs and NCIS are going right to "expired video", and just hanging. There is no recovery or timeout, sometimes the video prompts to load a flash player plugin (already present), and I experience the same behavior from other computers and other locations. Older shows load and work just fine. The same problems appear in XP, Vista and CentOS using Mozilla or IE. There is no easily identifiable link to report problems with the page, and doing a registration resulted in an activation e-mail that activated a completely different user name (for which my password didn't work).

This is a large, complicated, rapidly-changing website. As more entertainment gets presented on the web, and web content gets more dynamic to maintain timeliness, it seems that a more powerful strategy may be needed to detect, maintain and fix the site and overcome complexity problems. I'm in the early stages of creating a site for a client that may expand very rapidly, and I'm leaning toward Mason. What other tools, tips and standards are available to help me avoid the type of situation that CBS is encountering?"


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