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Comments

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Teacher Tenure Laws Ruled Unconstitutional In California

mpsmps Why not do this everywhere? (519 comments)

What is so special about primary/secondary teachers that means that teachers with tenure are automatically better to retain than those without? If it's really a better system, shouldn't all employers base their promotion/firing decisions on seniority rather than merit?

I work at a job where I am promoted over more senior people if I do well and will be fired if I do badly. While the company is far from perfect at judging, it still does a much better job of choosing who to retain/promote than mechanically basing it on seniority. I can't imagine how we'd benefit by saying that we can only fire employees that are new (instead of ones who are unproductive) and that our best employees would be permanently stuck behind the more senior ones. In fact, I imagine we'd go out of business.

Mike

about 3 months ago
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Geothermal Heat Contributing To West Antarctic Ice Sheet Melting

mpsmps GeoThermal only a small part of the glacier's melt (387 comments)

It's worth pointing out that the increased geothermal heat estimate only contributes a few per cent to the melting of the Thwaites glacier. It's predominately AGW and natural calving. I'm not saying this paper isn't important (we all know about the straw that broke the camel's back), just pointing out that it doesn't provide an alternate explanation to AGW for the melting of the Thwaite glacier.

about 3 months ago
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Should Techies Trump All Others In Immigration Reform?

mpsmps Re:How about... (231 comments)

How about no STEM visas for anyone? Instead, throw the effort at growing these folks at home

Yes, folks like Alexander Graham Bell, Nikola Tesla, Albert Einstein, Enrico Fermi, An Wang, Sergey Brin, Vinod Khosla, and Bjarne Stroustrup merely took jobs away from native-born Americans instead of creating more opportunities for them.

about a year and a half ago
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Political Science Prof Asks: Is Algebra Necessary?

mpsmps No but math is (1010 comments)

I agree the traditional math high school/college math curriculum isn't very worthwhile any more, if it ever was. Just as one example, you'll never use Euclidean geometry again (except the most basic parts that only take a couple of weeks of the standard course), whether or not you continue to more advanced math. Even engineers rarely if ever use the many dry and specialized "advanced integration techniques" that are taught to everyone in calculus.

However, I would revamp high school/college math rather than discard it. There is plenty of valuable and relevant math (e.g., statistics, logic with application to critiquing claims made in the media) that could be taught today instead of a lot of the more abstruse parts of algebra/geometry.

FWIW, when I taught calculus to english majors in grad school, I chose one day a week to teach other areas on general interest in mathematics, which seemed to work pretty well. My students performed equally on the calculus final to the other sections, but many more of them signed up to take additional math courses than in the other sections.

more than 2 years ago
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Grilling For Geeks

mpsmps I guess I am a geek (169 comments)

The spelling error in the URL bothers me way more than it should...

more than 2 years ago
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Why Distributing Music As 24-bit/192kHz Downloads Is Pointless

mpsmps Conclusion may be right, but his reasoning isn't (841 comments)

The author may be correct that 24/192 offers no advantages, he is wrong in saying that it is slightly worse.

While he's correct that frequencies much greater than >20khz can cause problems downstream, the problem is at least as bad with 16/44. The sampling theorem says that 44khz sampling is enough to correctly reproduce frequencies in the audio range (half the sample frequency). However, 16/44 reconstruction requires prefiltering and I believe can also introduce spurious high frequency components (the Nyquist theorem says nothing about frequencies higher than half the sample rate), so a brick wall filter is needed to remove any frequencies over 22khz, so you need to filter out high frequencies in either case. At least with a higher sample frequency you can use a more gradual filter, which is better in theory (though probably no different in practice). In particular, 24/192 will not sound any worse than 16/44

Such an elementary error calls the value of the whole article into doubt

more than 2 years ago
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Do Companies Punish Workers Who Take Vacations?

mpsmps I'd blame the employees rather than the employer (948 comments)

Most employers want you to take your vacation because unused vacation accrues as a liability on their books. I think the real problem is that employees don't want to take the time off. I work for a very large software company, which now requires that we take the last week or so of the year off. It is a problem for the company that SW engineers tend not to take the vacation that they are entitled to, and it is not good either for the employee or the employer's balance sheet. While it feels paternalistic for them to tell me I must take vacation then, I have to admit they were right (at least in my case).

more than 2 years ago
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Are Brain Teasers Good Hiring Criteria?

mpsmps Re:Well, they're a good indicator of intelligence (672 comments)

Actually, many large companies have parallel engineering and management ladders. The goal of this is to allow your best technical people to advance as individual contributors without moving into management (which they may not be their strength anyway) For example, at my company, Architect and Director have identical HR classifications. Likewise for Fellow and Vice President. If you are not advancing as a technical employee, you should look at yourself, just like if you were not advancing as a manager.

more than 2 years ago
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China To Cancel College Majors That Don't Pay

mpsmps Hmmm... (463 comments)

...cutting those studies in which less than 60% of graduates fail for two consecutive years to find work.

I guess the headline should be "China to Cancel College Majors That Do Pay

more than 2 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: Science Sights To See?

mpsmps The McDonald Observatory (363 comments)

The McDonald Observatory is way out in the middle of nowhere by design, so it might not seem worth hitting, but you shouldn't miss it. Placed at the highest point on the Texas highway system in the clear desert air and in a black-out zone where they keep people from 20 miles around from having lights on at night, you'll reliably see the best stars in the continental US. Come to a star party, and they have half a dozen telescopes set up on major sky sites 3 nights a week. A few times a year, you can view through either the 107 inch, 82 inch, or 36 inch research telescopes. Come during the day to tour the 433 inch telescope, one of the largest in the world. If you can, stay at the inexpensive Astronomer's Lodge and hang out with the astronomers doing research there.

I heard about this through my mother (a former high-school English teacher) and took several days out of vacation (we live in Chicago) to travel there with my wife (an HR exec). Both of them thought it was fantastically worthwhile, so imagine how good it was for science geeks like us.

more than 2 years ago
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Global Warming 'Confirmed' By Independent Study

mpsmps Re:Did it "confirm" it was caused by man? (967 comments)

98% of all climate studies do not even attempt to address the cause, yet you somehow think otherwise and are pretending instead that 98% of all studies do attempt to address the cause.

We both pulled a figure out of our asses.. but my pull is actually approximately correct.

Actually, the 98% figure comes not from anyones ass but from the scientific literature. Both of the following two papers conclude that ~98% of active climatologists concur with the consensus around climate change (hence the term "consensus").

Doran, P. T. and M. K. Zimmerman (2009), Examining the Scientific Consensus on Climate Change, Eos Trans. AGU, 90(3), 22, doi:10.1029/2009EO030002.

Anderegg WRL,; Prall JW,; Harold J,; Schneider SH. (2010) Expert credibility in climate change. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 107:12107–12109.

Why do you believe that your pull is more accurate than these studies?

more than 2 years ago
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Homemade 'Mars In a Bottle' Tortures Bacteria

mpsmps Re:Contamination (154 comments)

The concern is that our microbes may be the "invasive species" that destroys the native life on Mars, which would literally be a genocide.

more than 3 years ago
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RMS Cancels Lectures In Israel

mpsmps The organizer has a good point (609 comments)

For those who didn't RTFA, after the organizer said that he respected RMS' right to cancel the talk and that happens, he did make good points about why RMS' decision is disappointing for his fans.

You chose the "Free beer" giving up the "Free of speech" and that disappoints me very much since it has to do with the genuinity implementation of your own presented ideas.

Elsewhere in the response he gives the details

Boycotting the Israeli Universities since you get funds from Palestinians means that you accepted the Palestinians proprietary license. Neither you nor them want to help their neighbor.

I agree, and my respect for RMS' idealism is lessened.

more than 3 years ago
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Microsoft Rewarding Employees Who Phone It In

mpsmps Re:Wow! (280 comments)

Seriously, is it common (in the states) to "own" your employees even when they are not at work?

You would be surprised, but yes it is very common for companies to claim IP over things created even when an employee is doing them on their own free time. Companies argue that exposure to their policies arguably enabled the person to create the product, service or technology... which is wrong in my opinion but it still happens. I think that if you work for a company and there aren't explicit agreements in place you are protected in most states but you should definitely check first before starting up something awesome.

This is bad for all of us because it slows down the invention of new things to the angular flow rate of cold molasses.

The important thing is to make things clear. If you approach your employer (ideally) before starting your own spare-time idea that is clearly distinct from their business, most reasonable companies will give you a letter saying that it is your own. This simple step can save a lot of problems.

more than 3 years ago
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Ridley Scott Returns to PKD

mpsmps Re:Please correct me if I'm wrong.... (99 comments)

The question here is.... where is the pressure on Mars at 10 millibars? At the bottom of Hellas Basin and Valles Marineris it can certainly approach a couple hundred millibar of pressure.

At the bottom of Hellas Basin, air pressure is 11.5 millibars. You might want to consider the saying that "when you're in a hole (e.g., the Hellas Basin), you need to stop digging."

more than 3 years ago
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Ridley Scott Returns to PKD

mpsmps Re:Please correct me if I'm wrong.... (99 comments)

As for Total Recall, I thought it was a fun diversion, but as for realism I thought it was absolutely stupid and highly inaccurate. "Scientifically accurate depiction of exposure to the Martian atmosphere".... hardly. It looked cool on film I suppose but it really didn't work very well. FYI, you can survive on Mars with mostly a pressure suit and an oxygen mask. Parts of the surface of Mars have the same atmospheric pressure as the top of Everest. Really, it isn't nearly as bad as depicted in the movie.

Your complaints about the movie's scientific accuracy would be more compelling if you were more accurate than the movie was. Air pressure on Mars is less than 10 millibars. Air pressure at the top of Mt. Everest is about 300 millibars. Not remotely "the same atmospheric pressure".

more than 3 years ago
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Adobe Releases New 64-Bit Flash Plugin For Linux

mpsmps Re:Why does linux get this? (240 comments)

On the plus side, there is now a 64-bit plug-in for Windows. On the minus side, I just installed it, and whenever I go to a page with flash using Shiretoko (64-bit firefox), the browser just crashes. Sounds like a pretty easy plug-in to write...

about 4 years ago

Submissions

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Better airplane boarding method

mpsmps mpsmps writes  |  about 3 years ago

mpsmps (178373) writes "New research by Jason Steffen at Fermilab shows that boarding planes by rows is the worst possible ways and that big improvements in boarding time can be achieved with more optimized methods. The full paper is here. I'm glad to see that Fermilab is going to be doing something useful now that the tevatron is shutting down."
Link to Original Source
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Stupidity may be good for your health

mpsmps mpsmps writes  |  more than 6 years ago

mpsmps (178373) writes "According to new research, smarter flies have shorter lifespans. The article suggests this may explain why species don't select to be smarter than reproduction requires (and perhaps the dating experiences of many slashdotters)."
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National Academies mount new defense of evolution

mpsmps mpsmps writes  |  more than 6 years ago

mpsmps (178373) writes "The National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine today released SCIENCE, EVOLUTION, AND CREATIONISM, a book laying out the latest and overwhelming scientific evidence for evolution and why non-scientific approaches do not belong in the science classroom. It also discusses how our understanding of evolution has been essential in scientific advances, such as the analysis of the SARS virus. You can download the press release or read the entire book for free online."
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NASA being called-out on AMS grounding

mpsmps mpsmps writes  |  more than 6 years ago

mpsmps (178373) writes "Attention is being renewed on NASA's grounding of the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer. As pointed out in the article, Nobel-laureate Steven Weinberg says the AMS "would be the only significant science ever done on the space station." Plenty of similar quotes from other scientists. Lets keep the heat on for a special AMS mission like they're doing for Hubble."
Link to Original Source

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